Hammers beaten in season opener

Tomas Soucek in action against Newcastle

West Ham United 0-2 Newcastle United
Premier League

West Ham United fell to a 2-0 defeat against Newcastle United in their 2020/21 season opener on Saturday.

The Hammers twice hit the crossbar before the break – first through Angelo Ogbonna’s header, then from a Pablo Fornals strike from 12 yards – but could not force a way through.

Both sides created chances in an open first 45 minutes, but the game became more scrappy in the second half and Newcastle were more clinical, with Callum Wilson and Jeff Hendrick netting to take the points back to the north-east.

Tomas Soucek was available after having to miss the Czech Republic’s UEFA Nations League meeting with Scotland in midweek, and he slotted straight into the team alongside Declan Rice – making his 100th Premier League appearance – and Mark Noble.

The opening 45 minutes was open and entertaining with chances at both ends, and they began to flow from early on, with Callum Wilson nodding wide from a Jamal Lewis cross four minutes in.

The game ebbed and flowed nicely, with both teams enjoying spells on top, and ten minutes later Ogbonna sent a powerful header onto the top of the crossbar after Mark Noble delivered a free-kick from deep.

Michail Antonio drew the game’s first stop from Karl Darlow when he took advantage of a turnover in possession in midfield to drive at Jamaal Lascelles and into the box. He shot low, looking for the bottom right corner, but the Magpies stopper dived low to save.

Then, just before the half-hour, the Hammers worked an opportunity for Ryan Fredericks to cross in space on the right. He sized up the options and picked out Soucek’s powerful run, but the header dropped just the wrong side of the break.

Newcastle’s turn to threaten followed, as first Wilson led a break before nudging to Jonjo Shelvey off his right shoulder. The midfielder’s effort rifled into the side-netting, then Ogbonna made an important block to divert former Hammer Andy Carroll’s effort over the top.

Still the chances kept on coming, with West Ham striking the woodwork for a second time eleven minutes before the break.  Again it was down the right hand side where they found their joy, as Fredericks crossed low for Pablo Fornals to shoot goalwards. The ball deflected off Lascelles and onto the bar, with VAR deciding it wasn’t handball, leaving the hosts to curse their luck.

The start to the second period was more low key, but it was Newcastle who emerged from it with the lead.

Wilson, making his Magpies debut after signing from Bournemouth in the week, was on the spot to prod home after Hendrick helped Javier Manquillo’s deflected right wing centre across the six-yard box.

Chances were harder to come by now, so the Hammers turned to their bench and introduced Sebastien Haller and Andriy Yarmolenko to the fray.

Haller almost had an instant impact as his shot was blocked by Hendrick, with referee Stuart Attwell again ignoring Hammers appeals for handball.

It was at the other end that the game was sealed, though, Hendrick rifling into the roof of Lukasz Fabianski’s net after receiving a pass from Miguel Almiron inside the box three minutes from time.

West Ham United: Fabianski, Fredericks, Diop, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Rice, Soucek, Bowen (Felipe Anderson 89), Noble (Yarmolenko 67), Fornals (Haller 67), Antonio
Subs: Randolph, Johnson, Balbuena, Lanzini

Booked: Fredericks, Yarmolenko

Newcastle United: Darlow, Manquillo, Lascelles, Fernandez, Lewis, Hendrick, Shelvey, Hayden, Saint-Maximin (Joelinton 75), Carroll (S.Longstaff 88), Wilson (Almiron 85)
Subs: Gillespie, Krafth, Ritchie, Fraser

Goals: Wilson 56, Hendrick 87

Booked: Hayden, Manquillo

Referee: Stuart Attwell