Rafael Benitez hails 'fantastic' victory as Newcastle end winless run at West Ham
By Michael Hincks
Last Updated: 24/12/17 6:08am
Rafael Benitez was delighted to see Newcastle's hard work finally pay off as a 3-2 victory at West Ham ended their nine-game winless run in the Premier League.
A thrilling encounter at the London Stadium saw Newcastle trail after Henri Saivet gifted Marko Arnautovic the opener, though the midfielder made amends with a free-kick moments later.
Mo Diame scored after the break for Newcastle before Rob Elliot saved Andre Ayew's penalty, with Christian Atsu then netting the visitors' third.
Newcastle held on, even after Ayew pulled one back, and Benitez said it was a deserved victory for his side, who moved out of the relegation zone as a result.
"We were working so hard for so many games, we deserve a day like today. For the fans, it's fantastic," Benitez told Sky Sports after the match.
"The game against Everton we hit the post twice. And today it was one of those days where I couldn't believe it would be the same again.
"We deserved to win. The performance of the team has been so good, it's a great feeling for us and the fans."
Benitez made five changes at West Ham as he desperately sought a first win since October 21, and it proved to be a lively opening 10 minutes for Saivet.
The midfielder's loose pass could only find Arnautovic, who went on to score the opener after just six minutes, though Saivet responded four minutes later with a well-taken free-kick.
Saivet was only handed his first Premier League start of the season due to suspension and injuries to other midfielders, but Benitez was pleased to see him bounce back from an early setback.
"We had some problems with [Jonjo] Shelvey suspended and a couple of injuries to [Mikel] Merino and [Isaac] Hayden, but Henri is a good professional and trained really well. He was unlucky, but after he made the difference with his goal," Benitez added.
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