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West Ham 2-0 Newcastle United

On a day that saw West Ham reinforce their links to the London Stadium with the renaming of one of their stands after club legend Billy Bonds, they also cemented their place in the top half of the table with 3 points against a sloppy Newcastle United.

Goals from England hopeful Rice and a superb penalty from stalwart Nolan hammered nails into the Magpies hope of getting any positive result from this one, with the game over before half time.

The Declan Rice goal can be attributed to Schar losing his man at a corner. The Nolan penalty a result of a mistimed challenge from Florian Lejeune. Despite his protests he can have no complaints.

At the other end, time and time against the West Ham back line threw everything in the path of everything United could throw at them. Outstanding defending really, as against any other team Newcastle would have been sure to get a couple from the chances offered.

Back to home comforts next against Everton. And with other results mostly going Newcastle’s way this weekend they will be sure to still have a 6 point cushion above the drop zone come kick off in that game.

Rafa went with an unchanged side, although there was no place this time on the bench for Joselu with the lesser spotted Muto getting a rare call up.

STARTING XI: Dubravka, Manquillo, Schar (Dummett, 65), Lascelles, Lejeune, Ritchie, Hayden (Atsu, 79), Longstaff (Diame, 45), Perez, Almirón, Rondon

A poor start from the visitors, lacking intensity and failing to gain any control of the game meant having to soak up plenty of early pressure. A goal from a corner for West Ham after only 9 minutes then was no real surprise.

It took Newcastle more than quarter of an hour to get going in truth, and even after good work by Perez that saw Ritchie fouled on the edge of the box, United still managed to completely waste a free kick in a good position.

The performance of Longstaff was one indication that it was taking the Magpies a while to get going. He looked nervous in the opening period but would grown in confidence as he started to run things from midfield. Perhaps no coincidence then that a clash that saw him injured and booked, just before half time, would end Newcastle’s hopes in this one.

The resultant free kick resulted in a penalty conceded by Lejeune and scored by Nolan. There was nothing Dubravka could have done about that one.

And whilst Longstaff struggled on until the break he did not re-appear after the break and was later seen, post game, using crutches to get out of the stadium.

Between the goals Newcastle had seen the ball in the West Ham net. Perez slotting home after a Schar shot was deflected into his path. Perez, though, was clearly offside and the strike was correctly ruled out.

In the second half it was probably Newcastle who would feel most aggrieved at not scoring the third goal, although West Ham constantly looked dangerous on the break.

Outstanding blocks to stop almost certain goals from Lejeune, Rondon and a clutch of players in injury time would see West Ham keep a rare clean sheet. Whilst Perez should have also been far more clinical with a gilt edged chance in the opening stages of the second half.

It wasn’t to be however. Rafa, rightly not happy with his sides defending in this one, immediately turned his focus to the next game stating, “We must learn for the future, starting with Everton”.

Disappointing? Yes.

Season defining? Certainly not.

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