3 things we learned from Newcastle – West Ham
1. West Ham’s adapts to electric half, Newcastle does not: An absolutely frenetic if not chaotic first 45 minutes found Newcastle and West Ham trading blow after blow at St. James’ Park, but Declan Rice and the Irons calmed down at the break and found the openings in the Magpies’ forward-looking XI. Joe Willock will help the Magpies for sure but Steve Bruce will also have to note that both of the hosts’ goals came off service into the box.
West Ham has so many canny operators now, even without Jesse Lingard’s return, and Aaron Cresswell’s defensive shortcomings were not exposed enough by the Magpies. His attacking prowess, however, was on point. On the other side, Matt Ritchie had his moments in attack but was very much exposed at the other end by the Irons.
2. Saint-Maximin, Benrahma delightful X-factors: The modern game doesn’t always allow for creative players to have freedom but a pair of artists were on display in Newcastle’s Allan Saint-Maximin and West Ham’s Said Benrahma. The Magpies’ French wizard was tremendous in producing an assist and several “Wow” moments but his like-minded Algerian in claret and blue wasn’t too far behind him and scored the Irons’ second equalizer.
3. VAR checks Cresswell’s equalizer: The offside flag was raised when Aaron Cresswell’s cross into traffic appeared to be turned into the goal by either Tomas Soucek or Jarrod Bowen, but Soucek didn’t get a piece of the ball and Bowen’s shot came when the ball had already crossed the line. VAR is good sometimes.
Man of the Match: Said Benrahma
There aren’t enough words for Allan Saint-Maximin. How fortunate is Newcastle to have this guy?!? But Benrahma was nearly his equal on the day and West Ham produced four goals and won away from home. He gets the nod over ASM and Michail Antonio.
Newcastle – West Ham recap
Wilson put Newcastle ahead early in a frenetic first half, Saint-Maximin shaking and baking his way to get space from Declan Rice and crossing for a tap-in that was Wilson’s ninth career goal against West Ham.
West Ham had an answer on a very well-worked goal that went right-to-left, the Irons resisting several chances to take speculative shots before Aaron Cresswell’s cross from the left made its way through a sea of legs and past debutant Freddie Woodman.
Bowen then made an electric through the Magpies third as Newcastle appeared shaken, but Woodman stood tall to get a piece of the ex-Hull City man’s left-footed shot.
Then Jonjo Shelvey picked out Wilson at the other end, and Wilson’s creative backheel snapshot was caught by a stooping Lukasz Fabianski.
A Newcastle shot was then deflected by Rice and clipped the crossbar for a corner than led to a Ciaran Clark chance thwarted by Michael Dawson.
The Magpies reclaimed the lead before halftime when Matt Ritchie snapped a cross from the edge of play that Murphy headed inside the far post.
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Antonio then saved a ball off the end line at the same end early in the second half, spinning a left-footed cross to the back post for a leaping Benrahma to nod home.
West Ham was then given a chance to put the Irons in front when Murphy’s chopped clearing effort got the ball but also Benrahma and the Algerian made the most of it. Antonio’s penalty was saved by Woodman but Ritchie failed to stay with Soucek, who snapped home the rebound.
Antonio got his goal on a broken play, bodying up two Newcastle players to turn the ball up field on a counter attack. The ball came to Benrahma, who set up Antonio for a lashed finish.