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Promoted Newcastle scored their first goals and recorded their first points of the Premier League season with an impressive win over a struggling West Ham side.
Both teams began the new campaign with two defeats, and it was anticipated this contest would be a war of attrition, even at this early stage of the season.
There was little to entertain the crowd until the 36th minute when Joselu poked in after good work from Mikel Merino and Christian Atsu.
Newcastle grew in confidence after the break and it was 2-0 when the brilliant Matt Ritchie delivered a great ball into the area which was nodded in by Ciaran Clark.
And in the closing moments, substitute Aleksandar Mitrovic made sure of the three points when he took the ball around keeper Joe Hart before slotting in.
The Hammers remain rooted to the bottom of the table, having conceded 10 goals in three games.
A brighter future for the Magpies?
Two defeats, injuries to two key defenders and their captain suspended – somebody forgot to put out the welcome mat out for Newcastle on their return to the top flight.
Manager Rafael Benitez, who guided them back to the promised land, suggested this week that he does not plan to stay at the Magpies for too long.
However, in the short time he has been at St James’ Park, he has endeared himself to the fans – so much so that they were chanting his name prior to the goal when the home side were creating very little.
They recognise that Benitez appears to have done the best with what little transfer budget he has. Against West Ham, it was the system he played and the determination his players showed which won the day.
Both Ritchie and Isaac Hayden were exceptional with their dogged work in midfield, especially ex-Bournemouth winger Ritchie.
He forced midfielder Declan Rice into losing possession which resulted in the opener. The loose ball found its way to Merino, who played a beautifully-weighted pass for Atsu. The Ghana winger squared the ball for Joselu, who poked in under pressure.
The Magpies increased their lead when Scot Ritchie’s cross from the right found defender Clark, who nodded in. And then Mitrovic, perhaps lucky not to see a card for a stray arm which caught Manuel Lanzini, added the third after Newcastle had again pinched the ball from West Ham in their final third.
Hammers teenager learns harsh lesson
Rice, 18, was taken off at half-time, seemingly because his confidence was shattered after the mistake that led to Newcastle’s opener.
He was consoled by Hart straight after the goal, but the teenager knew the significance of his mistake in a side that was also short of confidence.
Their best chances came after the break when Rob Elliot blocked Aaron Cresswell’s effort and took the sting out of Javier Hernandez’s follow-up before Clark cleared the ball off the line.
The international break will give Hammers boss Slaven Bilic time to work out why it is not clicking for his side.
More to follow.
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