Newcastle United vs West Ham United. Premier League.
St James' Park, NewcastleAttendance50,673.
Report and free match highlights as Callum Wilson and Jacob Murphy gave Newcastle a half-time lead; Said Benrahma, Tomas Soucek and Michail Antonio scored after the break to secure West Ham's first opening weekend win since 2015; Aaron Cresswell also scores in first half after VAR review
Monday 16 August 2021 05:59, UK
West Ham picked up where they left off last season after a superb second-half performance saw them beat Newcastle 4-2 in their Premier League opener.
It was an entertaining match throughout, but West Ham were in devastating form after the break. They scored three goals in a 13 minute blitz that Newcastle were unable to recover from, with Steve Bruce's side having no shots on target in the second half.
However, with a packed St James' Park behind them for the first time since February 2020, it was the Magpies who took an early lead. Callum Wilson (5) marked his first game in the famous Newcastle No 9 shirt with a fine goal, nodding home inside five minutes.
It did not take long for West Ham to level though, as Aaron Cresswell's goal (18) - which was initially ruled out for offside - was correctly awarded after a VAR review. Newcastle then re-took the lead just before half-time as Jacob Murphy (41) scored his first goal at St James' Park.
Said Benrahma (53) nodded West Ham level, before Tomas Soucek (63) put them in front after Michail Antonio's penalty was saved by Freddie Woodman. But Antonio nabbed his goal after a wonderful counter-attack (66). It was his 47th Premier League goal for West Ham, going level with current leader Paolo Di Canio.
The Hammers have now scored 3+ goals in their last three Premier League outings either side of the summer break and won their opening Premier League game for the first time since 2015. As for Newcastle, they were unable to follow up their two end-of-season victories with another.
The fast start from both sides at St James' Park set the tone for the game. An early corner saw Miguel Almiron head a Soucek effort off the line, but mere minutes later, Newcastle were ahead.
Allan Saint-Maximin held the ball up wonderfully down the right, using all the tricks in his toolbox to bamboozle Declan Rice. He then lifted a cross into the middle and Wilson was waiting, having found an inch of space ahead of Craig Dawson and Vladimir Coufal, and nodded home from close range.
Newcastle: Woodman (7), Murphy (6), Krafth (6), Fernandez (6), Clark (6), Ritchie (7), Shelvey (7), Hayden (7), Almiron (7), Saint-Maximan (7), Wilson (6).
Subs used: Fraser (5), Joelinton (n/a), Longstaff (n/a).
West Ham: Fabianski (7), Coufal (6), Dawson (5), Ogbonna (6), Cresswell (7), Rice (7), Soucek (7), Bowen (7), Benrahma (7), Fornals (7), Antonio (8).
Subs used: Yarmolenko (n/a), Fredericks (n/a), Johnson (n/a).
Man of the match: Michail Antonio.
But West Ham reacted well and levelled things up in the 18th minute. The goal was initially ruled out for offside with Jarrod Bowen the last to touch it, but VAR reviewed the goal. In the end, Cresswell's curling cross into the area actually ended up evading everyone in the area and sneaking in at the back post, with Bowen - who was offside - only poking the ball further into the net once it had crossed the line.
Bowen could have nabbed his own goal five minutes later in a topsy-turvy, end-to-end period in the game. He made a fabulous run from midfield, skipping past every Newcastle shirt, but his eventual strike forced a superb save from Premier League debutant Woodman. At the other end, Jonjo Shelvey clipped the ball forward for Wilson, but his audacious backheeled effort was easily saved by Lukasz Fabianski.
Newcastle had another glorious effort just before the half an hour, and Saint-Maximin was again involved. He made a run to the top of the area, drawing in defenders, before picking out Almiron to his right. The forward struck, but his effort just clipped the top corner of the crossbar.
Late in the half, and Newcastle took the lead for a second time. Matt Ritchie did well to chase down a heavy pass from Almiron, before standing up a wonderful cross into the area. Among the melee in the middle was Murphy, who popped up with a dinked header that caught the West Ham defence off-guard and rolled into the back of the net.
It took just eight minutes after the break for West Ham to respond again. It all began with Rice robbing Saint-Maximin in midfield, but Antonio did well to send in a cross after a heavy first touch from Bowen's pass. Benrahma used his movement to sneak in between the defenders before nodding the ball home - already matching his tally of one Premier League goal from last season.
Ten minutes later, and Antonio hit the post before West Ham were awarded a penalty immediately after - a decision Sky Sports' Michael Dawson described as 'criminal' and 'so, so soft'. Pablo Fornals and Murphy both chased down the loose ball after Antonio hit the post, with Murphy sliding in on the West Ham man.
Martin Atkinson pointed to the spot, with a rather lengthy VAR review concurring with his decision. Antonio took the penalty, but it was a wonderful save from Woodman to keep him out. However, the Newcastle defence were too slow off the mark, with Soucek storming ahead to slot home and put West Ham in the lead for the first time.
West Ham rounded off their victory with a sucker punch fourth shortly after. It was a superb counter, started off by Antonio deep in the West Ham area, picking out Benrahma down the left. He then burst down the field, as his team-mate held the ball up before slotting him through. It was then a placed finish past Woodman to mark his first game in West Ham's No 9 shirt in style.
It was a brilliant performance from Antonio and Newcastle were arguably lucky he did not score more than one goal. He was met by a wonderful Woodman save for his penalty, but has still matched Di Canio's record for Premier League goals for West Ham.
Sky Sports co-commentator Andy Hinchcliffe said: "I think pre-match, the attention was on Callum Wilson and Allan Saint-Maximin but Michail Antonio has completely outdone them. He was involved in the first goal, set up Said Benrahma's goal, and scored a brilliant counter-attacking goal himself.
"He has covered so much ground for the team. He wanted to be West Ham's number nine and he has had an enormous impact on this result today."
Newcastle manager Steve Bruce: "Defensively, we've got to be better than we were, that's for sure. For me, the big turning point is the penalty, which for the life of me, I can't understand why the referee, who is standing ten feet away from us, cannot come and check [the pitchside monitor].
"If he comes and checks, I think he would maybe think differently. I haven't asked Martin yet, but it's a big point in the game.
"It's what VAR is supposed to be there for [reaching the right decision]. I've looked at it four or five times, it looks really harsh to me. Why does Martin not go to check it, rather than asking somebody else's opinion 300 miles away? It might have been a different story because when he looks at it, he'll think it was harsh.
"It was a decent game in the first half, but defensively, we have to admit that we have to be better.
"In the second half, we gave away the game in cheap areas at times, but we were always a threat. We conceded far too many goals last year and we have to sharpen up defensively.
"In the Premier League, when you chase it, you leave yourself exposed and once we do that, it becomes difficult for us. Overall, I was really pleased with a lot of it, but we have to be better defensively."
West Ham manager David Moyes: "I thought it was a great game, I really enjoyed it myself. The first half was end-to-end, unfortunately we gave them a bit of a leg up in giving them a second goal.
"I thought we had done enough to be in front even then, I thought we played well, but we didn't make the final pass as well as we should have done and we didn't defend a couple of crosses that well.
"There was no message [at half-time], I thought we'd done a lot. I was more annoyed because of how we'd done defensively. We also had so many counter-attacks, but we didn't make the final pass well enough. We needed to do that better and I thought we did.
"I was thrilled with the performance. The players did a great job today, with 50,000 Geordies here and there was a goal after three minutes, so there was a lot of character shown by the players.
"Last season, we were talking about teams winning away because there was no crowd in the stadium. But I think we approached the game exactly as we would have done at home. We want to go win, attack and score goals.
"I think we're a pretty good watch and I think we were last year, but I don't want us to be losing two goals every week because it's not my style. But I like the thought that we're scoring four because that's always good.
"I would expect so [to add to the squad], but if the players perform as well as they did last season and today, it means whoever we've got to bring in has got to be at a very good level."
Newcastle will travel to Aston Villa on Saturday in the Premier League; kick-off 3pm. West Ham will host Leicester on the first Monday Night Football of the season on August 23, live on Sky Sports; kick-off 8pm.