One of Newcastle United’s best performances of the season counted for nothing in the end as a clinical West Ham United put the wasteful hosts to the sword in what ended up a 3-0 rout.
The Magpies came into this one in high spirits with three wins and a draw in their last four games, having leapfrogged the visitors during the last round of fixtures.
Rafa would make just the one change for this one as his side reverted to a flat back four with Manquillo coming in for the unlucky Clark.
STARTING XI: Dubravka, Yedlin, Schar, Fernandez, Manquillo, Ritchie (Atsu, 54), Ki, Diame, Kenedy (Shelvey, 70), Perez (Joselu, 78), Rondon
After the game Benitez stated the difference between the sides was as simple as the sides comparative transfer budgets. And it would be hard to argue with that.
Javier Hernandez scored twice, his cost £16m, just edging out Newcastle’s highest every transfer fee, whilst the £36m capture of the impressive Anderson is something that Rafa could only dream about.
And the visitors were clinical. Newcastle had 16 shots to West Ham’s 7, both teams with 4 on target.
And it could have been a different story had the home side taken any one of those chances.
West Ham scored on just 11 minutes, totally against the run of play. A cross arriving at Chicharito’s feet, unmarked in the box, to slam home. The irony of it being the 11th minute was not lost on those in the ground as the planned 11th minute walk-in was something of a damp squib to say the least.
Perez would then be culprit in chief for the Magpies, spurning a host of chances, including taking one of the head of Fernandez who looked odds on to nod home.
Newcastle continued to dominate however, but as the game started to stretch, West Ham pounced again. This time a through ball from Arnoutovic allowing Chicharito to race clear and slot home.
Rafa’s men looked like they wouldn’t score if they’d played all day, and in the third minute of injury time Anderson rounded off an impressive counter attacking display that Rafa would have been proud of to make it 3-0.
A bad day in the office, and a timely reminder with the January transfer window coming up, that there is still a real gulf in quality in so many of the squads.