West Ham ease to victory over disappointing Newcastle
PUBLISHED: 19:41 02 March 2019 | UPDATED: 19:41 02 March 2019
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The Hammers celebrated naming the West Stand after the legendary Billy Bonds with three Premier League points
West Ham United 2 Newcastle United 0
Pre-match, he officially opened the stand so deservedly named after him.
And it was probably no coincidence that the early evening encounter full of blood, sweat and tears that followed, epitomised the glorious career enjoyed by Billy Bonds MBE, down West Ham way.
There were tears from the true Hammers hero before kick-off as the Claret & Blue fans in the crowd of 59,910 stood to a man to salute the legend as he proudly saw the East Stand re-named in his honour.
And there was blood aplenty as Aaron Cresswell and Javier Manquillo smashed heads in a contest that yielded half-a-dozen bookings.
Then came the sweat as the Hammers – having worked their way into a two-goal interval lead thanks to Declan Rice’s early header and a decisive Mark Noble penalty – then defensively dug-in as the winged Magpies attempted to launch a second-half comeback
A one-goal defeat at Manchester City on Wednesday evening meant that West Ham had picked up just five points from their last six outings and, following that narrow loss against his former side at the Etihad Stadium, Manuel Pellegrini made a quintet of changes.
Noble, Manuel Lanzini, Aaron Cresswell, Javier Hernández and Robert Snodgrass returned to a West Ham United kicking-off in 10th spot – four places and five points above the Magpies – as Ben Johnson, Andy Carroll plus substitutes Pedro Obiang, Michail Antonio and Samir Nasri each made way.
Following that emotional pre-match ceremony, Bonds – watching from the Directors’ Box - would certainly have approved of West Ham’s lightning-quick start to this tea-time contest.
With just seven minutes on the clock, Snodgrass floated his right-wing corner towards the penalty spot, where Rice stole between Jamaal Lascelles and Florian Lejeune to nod the Hammers in front with a thundering header.
Then, with echoes of Bonzo’s no-nonsense style of play, Cresswell and Manquillo drew blood following an aerial clash that saw Newcastle’s French flanker left swathed in a head bandage following lengthy treatment.
As the half-hour mark approached, there was yet more agony for the visitors, when skipper Noble was booked for an industrial challenge on record-signing Miguel Almirón making a painful first trip to London, while Cresswell hobbled away to be replaced by Arthur Masuaku.
Having finally hit form, a confident Newcastle had arrived in the capital having won four of their past six Premier League matches and, with back-to-back victories against Huddersfield and Burnley during the past week, Rafa Benitez rewarded the eleven who beat the Clarets on Tuesday night by naming an unchanged team.
Although Ayoze Pérez had an effort ruled out for offside, the Magpies had barely threatened during the opening period and, after Fabian Schär and Sean Longstaff were yellow carded for fouls on Felipe Anderson and Snodgrass respectively, Benitez’s boys found themselves falling yet further behind, as Lejeune’s afternoon got yet worse, when he tripped Hernández in the box.
Referee Chris Kavanagh instantly pointed to the spot and, doing what he does best, Noble duly despatched the consequent penalty under the left-hand angle as Martin Dubravka clawed thin air.
Just before the break, Issa Diop brilliantly blocked Schär and - with Newcastle introducing ex-Hammer Mohamed Diamé in place of Longstaff for the restart – Pérez then drilled an angled shot across the face of Lukasz Fabianski and beyond the far post.
With the hour-mark approaching, Salomón Rondón forced Hammers Polish keeper into a low save with an angled effort, while at the other end the stretching Hernández hooked one high over before ripping into the side-netting.
Masuaku was yellow-carded for tugging back Rondón before Isaac Hayden followed him into the book for cynically pulling down the escaping Snodgrass and, with Paul Dummett on for Schär, Marko Arnautović then stepped from the opposite dug-out to replace Hernández.
Obiang also replaced Noble, while Christian Atsu came on for Hayden and, after Diamé saw yellow for a lunge on Lanzini, Rondón’s 20-yard free-kick thumped off Fabianski’s right-hand upright but, in the end the Hammers held firm to follow-up December’s 3-0 win at St James’s Park with a home victory, too.
Departing to chants of ‘Billy Bonds Claret & Blue Army’ at the final whistle, the Hammers legend would definitely have approved of this gritty victory that lifts Manuel’s men into ninth-spot.
HAMMERS: Fabianski, Fredericks, Cresswell (Masuaku 33), Ogbonna, Diop, Rice, Noble (Obiang 79), Snodgrass, Antonio, Anderson, Hernández (Arnautović 70). Unused subs: Adrián, Nasri, Pérez, Antonio.
MAGPIES: Dubravka, Manquillo, Schär (Dummett 65), Lascelles, Lejeune, Ritchie, Pérez, Hayden (Atsu 79), Longstaff (Diamé h/t), Almirón, Rondón. Unused subs: Darlow, Ki Sung-Yueng, Muto, Yedlin.
Booked: Noble (26), Schär (37), Longstaff (39), Masuaku (66), Hayden (67), Diamé (84)
Referee: Chris Kavanagh