Barclays Premier League
Newcastle United 2-0 West Ham United
Newcastle United 2-0 West Ham United
West Ham United’s 2014/15 Barclays Premier League campaign ended in defeat on Sunday, as Newcastle United preserved their top-flight status with a 2-0 success at St James’ Park.
Moussa Sissoko broke the deadlock in the 54th minute with a powerful downward header, before Jonas Gutierrez set the seal on the Geordies' survival in the latter stages with a pinpoint low drive.
Stewart Downing had earlier been denied by Tim Krul, while Kevin Nolan fired wide from the edge of the box against his old side, but this was well and truly Newcastle's day.
Not that the St James’ Park crowd needed any stoking up, they were almost celebrating the perfect start. Inside 60 seconds, Emmanuel Riviere pounced on the loose ball from a right-wing cross, but slashed his effort across the face of goal.
On their big day, the hosts were in no mood to sit back. In fact, for a game of this import, it was an unusually open beginning.
West Ham were giving as good as they got and might have had an early spot kick. Enner Valencia cushioned Carl Jenkinson’s cross and though he fell to earth under Mike Williamson’s challenge, Martin Atkinson was unmoved.
With six minutes on the clock, Riviere had another dig, this time an acrobatic effort from Daryl Janmaat’s centre. The outcome, however, was much the same, with his volley sailing comfortably wide of Adrian’s near post.
Reece Burke then got in the way of Gutierrez’s drive from the edge of the box, before Janmaat fired the rebound wide.
But it was West Ham who fashioned arguably the best chance of the half. Aaron Cresswell slid it firmly into Stewart Downing’s path in the inside left channel and though the No11 tried to loft it over the advancing Tim Krul, he rather scuffed it and the ‘keeper smothered.
As the half ticked on, the pace inevitably let up. Newcastle were doing nothing of the sort. Jack Colback swung in a deep cross from the left and Janmaat, arriving late at the far post, should have done a whole lot better than the header he sent sailing high and wide.
Into first-half stoppage time it went and Janmaat set off on a purposeful run towards goal but failed to hit the target again, dragging his strike past Adrian’s left-hand upright.
Newcastle twice went close in the opening moments of the second half. Williamson’s looping header from a Colback corner drifted past the far post, but it was Riviere was passed up the golden opportunity. Janmaat skipped past Cresswell and squared for the Frenchman, who, with only Adrian to beat, made the meekest of connections and the chance went begging.
But Sissoko soon spared his teammate’s blushes. Gutierrez’s left-wing cross was an inviting one and Sissoko rose above both Reid and Cresswell to power a downward header beyond Adrian.
In response, Sam Allardyce withdrew Valencia and brought on Morgan Amalfitano in his stead, but West Ham were struggling to carve out clear chances. Cole met Jenkinson's cross from the right but nodded well over Krul's crossbar.
Skipper Nolan could have dented his former employer's survival hopes. Cole's lay-off was perfect and Nolan's connection was good enough, but while Krul scampered across his goal, the ball trickled beyond the far post.
The hosts, meanwhile, had a gilt-edged chance to settle it late on. West Ham made a meal of a set piece and when Vurnon Anita robbed Cresswell his path to Adrian's goal was unimpeded. He unselfishly if unwisely tried to square it and Adrian was able to gather.
The reprieve, however, was short lived, as Gutierrez drove a low shot into the bottom corner of Adrian's goal to spark wild celebrations among the Geordie faithful. For the Hammers, defeat coupled with Crystal Palace's win over Swansea, means they finish the season in 12th spot.
Newcastle United: Krul, Janmaat, Coloccini (c), Williamson, Dummett, Anita, Colback, Gutierrez, Sissoko, Riviere, Cisse
Subs: Woodman, Perez, Ameobi, Cabella, R.Taylor, De Jong, Gouffran
Goals: Sissoko 54, Gutierrez 85
Booked: Sissoko, Gutierrez
West Ham United: Adrian, Jenkinson, Burke (Tomkins 69), Reid, Cresswell, Song, Nolan (c), Kouyate (Lee 77), Downing, Valencia (Amalfitano 62), Cole
Subs: Jaaskelainen, O'Brien, Tomkins, Jarvis, Nene
Referee: Martin Atkinson