West Ham start with a fifth consecutive season opening defeat
PUBLISHED: 08:04 13 September 2020 | UPDATED: 08:50 14 September 2020
PA Wire/PA Images
Premier League: West Ham United 0 Newcastle United 2
Yet again, this was definitely not the start to the new campaign that the Hammers wanted as they kicked-off with a defeat for the fifth successive season, at London Stadium.
Although Angelo Ogbonna and Pablo Fornals struck the woodwork in an end-to-end goalless opening period, Magpies new boys Callum Wilson and Jeff Hendrick secured victory for the visitors with two telling second-half strikes.
Wilson – so often the scourge of West Ham United – prodded home his eighth goal in nine games against the Hammers on 56 minutes, before Hendrick doubled the lead with an 18-yard scorcher with just four minutes remaining to leave David Moyes now contemplating a daunting half-dozen fixtures ahead.
With no fans allowed within London Stadium, a band of hardy Hammers supporters had gathered, pre-match, on the roadside approach, banners unfurled, in protest at the lack of summer transfer activity down West Ham way.
Indeed, with no new faces to select, Moyes had no option but to go with those who had served him so well in retaining the club’s Premier League status during last season’s frenetic Project Restart and, with Michail Antonio having bagged eight goals during July, the No.30 was asked to go alone up front, while January acquisitions Jarrod Bowen and Tomáš Souček started, too.
And within just seconds of the kick-off, Czech midfielder Souček – returning from international week - was quickly reminded that he was back in England, when ex-Hammer Andy Carroll sent him crashing to the Stratford turf with a crunching aerial challenge that earned the Big Man an early lecture from referee Stuart Attwell.
In the opposite dug-out to Moyes, Steve Bruce had conversely attracted a quartet of pre-season signings to Tyneside in recent days, capturing Hendrick from Burnley plus a trio of players, who thought they would be kicking-off in the Championship following relegation.
Having snapped up Hendrick on a free transfer and £15million Jamal Lewis from Norwich City, the Magpies also started with £20million Wilson following his move from AFC Bournemouth, while Ryan Fraser – having been released by the Cherries - was named on the bench, where he would remain as his new team-mates bagged all three points.
Within four minutes, the overlapping Lewis sent in a left-wing cross that Wilson nodded behind at the near post and, shortly afterwards, former West Ham schoolboy Jonjo Shelvey swung over the first corner of the evening, which saw Federico Fernández’s header parried by Łukasz Fabiański.
Newcastle certainly meant business as Antonio found to his cost, when the consequently cautioned Isaac Hayden scythed him in full-flow with a dozen minutes gone but the Hammers finally threatened as Mark Noble floated the resultant free-kick to the far post, where Ogbonna climbed highest to send his looping header onto Karl Darlow’s crossbar.
Back at the other end, Wilson stabbed wide and, as the tackles flew in, Shelvey’s free-kick deflected into Fabiański’s clutches, while Carroll also a dispatched 15-yard header beyond the Polish ‘keeper’s left-hand angle.
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As the half-hour approached, the contest really started to open up with the breaking Antonio seeing his low shot saved by Darlow ahead of Souček sending a diving header wide, while the raiding Shelvey ripped an angled rocket into the side-netting before Carroll rounded off a clever juggle with a volley that flew just inches over the top to the relief of West Ham’s wobbling defence.
On 33 minutes, Pablo Fornals’ rising shot was deflected onto the crossbar by the diving Jamaal Lascelles but despite the seething Spaniard’s claims for handball – and a VAR check – the Hammers had to settle for a corner.
Wilson, who had Cherry-picked seven goals in eight games against the Hammers while playing down on the South Coast, again came close to breaking the deadlock but, this time, his curling 18-yarder arced inches wide of Fabiański’s left upright to somehow keep the opening 45 minutes goalless.
Moyes boys were living just as dangerously after the break, too, as Ryan Fredericks denied Carroll in the six-yard box and when Saint-Maximin broke away shortly afterwards, West Ham’s right-back was booked for felling the Frenchman.
Almost inevitably, on 56 minutes, Wilson broke the deadlock, when Javier Manquillo got the better of Fredericks down the right flank before crossing towards the near post, where Hendrick nodded on and Wilson stabbed past Fabiański from a couple of yards.
Andriy Yarmolenko and Sébastien Haller were summoned from the bench in a double-substitution that saw Noble and Fornals retire and the two new arrivals were quickly into the thick of things.
First Haller’s angled shot appeared to strike the arm of Lascelles, who again escaped without punishment before Yarmolenko was booked for a forward’s lunge on Saint-Maximin, moments after Manquillo had seen yellow for felling Jarrod Bowen.
Yarmolenko then saw his low 20-yarder deflected wide, while Haller’s late header was clawed out from under his crossbar by Darlow before Miguel Almirón joined the action late-on.
And the Paraguayan substitute soon squared to Hendrick, who lashed an 86th-minute screamer past Fabiański to cement victory over the Hammers, who now face tricky trips to Arsenal, Leicester City, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool as well as difficult haunting home encounters with both Wolves and Manchester City all before Halloween.
West Ham United: Fabiański, Fredericks, Cresswell, Diop, Ogbonna, Rice, Souček, Bowen (Felipe Anderson 88), Noble (Yarmolenko 66), Fornals (Haller 66), Antonio. Unused subs: Randolph, Johnson, Balbuena, Lanzini.
Newcastle United: Darlow, Manquillo, Lascelles, Fernandez, Lewis, Saint-Maximin (Joelinton 75), Hendrick, Shelvey, Hayden, Carroll (S. Longstaff 86), Wilson (Almiron 84). Unused subs: Gillespie, Krafth, Ritchie, Fraser.
Booked: Hayden (12), Fredericks (54), Manquillo (68), Yarmolenko (69).
Referee: Stuart Attwell
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