NEWCASTLE VICTORIES on the road are rare but Steve Bruce’s side were good value here despite the eventual 3-2 score line making it seem close.
Not only did a team with seven goals in its last 11 league and cup outings plunder three, but both their centre-backs got on the scoresheet, as Ciaran Clark and Federico Fernandez plundered headed efforts just six first-half minutes apart.
After the interval, a masterful free-kick from Jonjo Shelvey sealed the deal, which goals for Fabian Balbuena and Robert Snodgrass could not reverse.
Newcastle were dominant, This in itself should give Manuel Pellegrini and his charges cause for alarm. They held West Ham at arm’s length for most of this match while possessing an uncharacteristic threat at the other end.
At the interval there was justifiable disbelief for Bruce and his players that their lead was a mere two.
In the 16th minute Clark applied the finishing touch when Joelinton nodded Shelvey’s curling free-kick back across the West Ham penalty area under minimal pressure.
Newcastle were ascendant. Clark’s centre-back partner Fernandez doubled the Magpies’ lead following a corner. The Argentine latched on to Jetro Willems’ lofted pass to plant the ball beyond the stranded Roberto.
There were glorious chances for Allain Saint-Maxime, who really should have done better when put through on two occasions, and Shelvey, who struck the crossbar.
DeAndre Yedlin also had a goal correctly ruled offside after the restart but Newcastle would not be denied.
Six second half minutes had elapsed when Shelvey made it three with a kind of curling free-kick that sparks those sporadic calls for his inclusion in Gareth Southgate’s England squad.
It was an adroit effort that evaded the wall and the despairing dive of Roberto, who got a touch but could not keep the ball out.
The contest then endured a lull before Sebastian Haller drew a save from Martin Dubravka following Felipe Anderson’s corner. Balbuena was on hand to make it 3-1 and within seconds the Paraguayan had placed the ball back on the centre spot.
Snodgrass reduced the arrears further with a superb drive from the edge of the box to set up a nervous finish but, in truth, it was too little too late despite five additional minutes. The 17 minutes between West Ham goals yielded little for the home side, who seldom troubled Newcastle.
West Ham remain winless since the visit of Manchester United on September 22 – a run of six matches without tasting success – and such results continue to undermine their European aspirations.
Manuel Pellegrini’s side remain a flaky, inconsistent outfit, with too many players whose bright performances are few and far between. This team cannot defend with requisite reliability and the writing was on the wall early doors.
As a consequence, West Ham remain as close the European spots and they do the relegation zone.
Newcastle, for their part, bought themselves a respite and moved to within a point of West Ham.