West Ham United roar back to win thrilling opener at Newcastle United
Newcastle United 2-4 West Ham United
West Ham United roared back in the second half to overwhelm Newcastle United and triumph 4-2 in their Premier League opener at St James’ Park on Sunday afternoon.
Twice the east Londoners trailed to Newcastle headers in a see-saw first half, first to Callum Wilson and then to Jacob Murphy, but they kept going and ensured Aaron Cresswell’s equaliser in between would be built on.
David Moyes’ men emerged for the second half at real pace and had the game won before its mid-point.
First Saïd Benrahma nodded home to level up for the second time of the contest, before quickfire goals from Tomáš Souček and Michail Antonio left a stunned Magpies side on the ropes.
It was a truly thrilling start to the campaign, as 3,000 Hammers high in the St James’ Park stands more than enjoyed their return to full houses in the Premier League.
West Ham were first out of the blocks and went so close to taking a second minute lead when Cresswell’s left wing corner was headed back by Craig Dawson and Souček forced it goalwards, only for Miguel Almirón to clear off the line.
The Hammers had the early pressure, but it was Newcastle who had the early goal through their familiar foe Wilson.
Allan Saint-Maximin made the goal, twisting and turning in the right channel to make space for a cross away from Declan Rice, standing up a perfect ball for Wilson to crash home a close range header at the near post.
West Ham continued to probe, despite that set-back, and were rewarded with a swift leveller just 13 minutes later.
It was a nicely-worked goal too, as the visitors moved the ball from right to left across the box, with Pablo Fornals feeding Cresswell in space to fire a low ball across. Souček went for it at the near post and couldn’t get a touch on it, but no matter, as the ball nestled in the back of the net anyway.
An offside flag against Jarrod Bowen threatened to cut short the celebrations, but the ball was already over the line before his finishing touch came, and a VAR check ensured the goal stood.
Bowen had the chance to add a second shortly afterwards, scything a path through the Newcastle defence but was denied by home goalkeeper Freddie Woodman, who made himself big to close down the angles.
The game had a terrific ebb-and-flow to it, and after Wilson forced a sharp save from Łukasz Fabiański with an improvised backheel, Almirón saw his 20-yard effort take a touch off Rice and bounce onto the top of the crossbar.
Both teams could have made a case for deserving the half-time lead, but it was the home side who had it, and West Ham would have been disappointed with the ease with which Matt Ritchie was able to deliver into their box four minutes before the break. Murphy was alive to the left-wing cross, and arrived in the centre to guide a header into the bottom left-hand corner and make it 2-1.
The Hammers wanted a fast start to the second half in response and they got exactly that, levelling once again just eight minutes after the restart.
Antonio stretched to reach a pass in the left channel, and did brilliantly to dig out a cross from the by-line, giving Benrahma the simple task of nodding home at the far post.
West Ham weren’t finished there, though, and led for the first time in the afternoon ten minutes later.
Fornals picked out Vladimír Coufal’s run into the box with a perfectly-weighted pass, and although Antonio thundered the Czech’s cross against the woodwork, Murphy fouled Fornals as the pair jostled for the rebound, giving the visitors the chance to strike from the spot.
Antonio stepped up to take and Woodman guessed correctly to palm his effort out low to the right, but the reprieve was only a momentary one as Souček raced onto the loose ball to thump home.
The visitors kept on coming, and Newcastle could not contain their surge, with the Hammers adding a fourth just three minutes later.
Antonio may not have taken his chance from the spot moments earlier, but his confidence was far from dented and he absolutely made sure he would make the most of his next opportunity, receiving the ball from Benrahma to burst into the box and fire an unstoppable finish past Woodman - the 47th Premier League goal of his West Ham United career, drawing him level with Paolo Di Canio as the Club's top goalscorer in the competition.
The turnaround was swift and overwhelming for the hosts, who never looked like responding to spoil what became the perfect start to the season for the Hammers.
Newcastle United: Woodman, Fernández, Hayden, Clark, Krafth (S.Longstaff 84), Almirón, Shelvey (Fraser 70), Ritchie, Murphy, Wilson (Joelinton 84), Saint-Maximin
Subs: Gillespie, Lewis, Lascalles, Schär, Hendrick, Gayle
Goals: Wilson 5, Murphy 41
West Ham United: Fabiański, Coufal, Dawson, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Rice, Souček, Bowen (Yarmolenko 90), Fornals, Benrahma (Fredericks 88), Antonio (Johnson 90+3)
Subs: Areola, Baptiste, Diop, Noble, Coventry, Lanzini
Goals: Cresswell 18, Benrahma 53, Souček 63, Antonio 66
Referee: Martin Atkinson