Friday, November 26

Antonio and Benrahma lead West Ham to overcome victory in Newcastle | Premier league


Rain was pouring down from a towering sky, loud cheers failed to drown out the loud boos as the teams knelt and Newcastle United were ultimately well beaten. However, nothing could take away the joy of a long-awaited afternoon.

For the first time since February 29, 2020, St James’ Park was almost full. After seemingly endless months of pandemic-induced misery, the atmosphere remained so charged that it seemed the crowd of 50,673 could have likely generated enough electricity to keep Tyneside’s lights on throughout the winter.

If Newcastle’s surrender in the second half after a spirited start suggested it could be a bit bleak for Steve Bruce and his team, the excellence of Michail Antonio and, after a shaky start, Declan Rice boded very well for West Ham.

With just five minutes left on the clock, the rain temporarily stopped and an excited home fan forgot the pre-game advice to refrain from hugging strangers and brought down a smiling butler. A trio of forehand steps by Allan Saint-Maximin not only left Rice looking horribly queasy, it preceded a cross that Callum Wilson delighted in leading point-blank past Lukasz Fabianski.

When he arrived at Newcastle from Bournemouth last year, Wilson spoke of his wish to ‘feel the noise’ after scoring at St James’ Park and now that wish has finally been granted.

Freddie Woodman has endured an even longer wait to make his Premier League debut here, but a combination of Martin Dubravka’s foot injury and Karl Darlow’s slow recovery from severe Covid finally opened the door for the third goalkeeper. of Bruce.

With his godfather, England coach Gareth Southgate, watching from the main stands, Woodman emphasized the talent that has seen him impress during two recent loan seasons at Swansea, courtesy of an outstanding save from Jarrod Bowen.

By then, though West Ham had equalized via a cross shot from Aaron Cresswell that fooled all in attendance on its journey to the bottom corner. That goal was originally ruled out for an offside against Bowen, but that decision was overturned by a VAR review. He showed that the ball had already crossed the line when Bowen threw a boot at him and, mistakenly believing that he had provided the vital and scoring touch, he began to celebrate.

That little confusion came as no surprise on a fast and frantic afternoon when the fiercely high pace was leaven by a surprising degree of finesse as the ball moved at high speed across the wet and slippery field.

The break had not yet come when Miguel Almirón’s skillful feint allowed the Paraguayan to put the superimposed Matt Ritchie on the left. When Ritchie crossed, Jacob Murphy rose above David Moyes’ defense to bring Newcastle to the front.

Michail Antonio celebrates the goal in West Ham's comeback
Michail Antonio celebrates scoring in West Ham’s comeback win. Photograph: Ian MacNicol / Getty Images

The pace slowed slightly in the second half and when Saint-Maximin lost concentration near the halfway line, Rice took revenge for his humiliation before Newcastle’s first goal. Having won the ball, Rice used it well, feeding Bowen, whose subsequent ball allowed Antonio to cross for Saïd Benrahma to head West Ham from six yards.

By now, Moyes’ team was in control and showing precisely why they finished sixth last season. When Antonio’s header hit the bar, Murphy lost his balance in the fall, foolishly tripping Pablo Fornals.

A clear sanction was granted. Antonio stepped forward only to be frustrated by Woodman’s excellent save, but the keeper’s joy was momentary when, on the rebound, Tomas Soucek hit the ball into the unprotected net.

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As West Ham celebrated, Antonio still looked a bit angry with himself and probably knew he should have done better with both the header and the penalty. It does not matter; The third time around turned out to be lucky for the center forward when Moyes’ team caught Newcastle flat-footed, breaking at speed with Antonio trading passes with Benrahma before challenging Woodman courtesy of a brutally incisive shot in the bottom corner. It was his 47th Premier League goal for West Ham and equaled Paolo Di Canio’s record.

With Antonio now virtually unplayable and Rice irrepressible in midfield, Bruce’s players were being totally questioned. The Newcastle coach could have done it with Joe Willock coming off the bench for scoring effect, but his new £ 22 million signing from Arsenal, who received a standing ovation before the game, did not register in time to participate here.

With this evidence, Willock will be needed for months to come.


www.theguardian.com

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