Newcastle 2-2 West Ham: Report, Ratings & Reaction as West Ham Let Lead Slip Twice

Declan Houten
Newcastle twice came back from behind against the Hammers
Newcastle twice came back from behind against the Hammers / Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
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Newcastle thwarted West Ham's hopes of a big three points away from home, goals from Miguel Almiron cancelling out strikes from Michail Antonio and Tomáš Souček.

The Hammers got off to the best possible start, but not without a friendly helping hand from Jamaal Lascelles, who diverted an unthreatening Jarrod Bowen cross straight into the path of Antonio, who obligingly turned the ball home.

With Allan Saint-Maximin in such effervescent form however, Newcastle were always in the match, and a flowing move reached Emil Krafth in a perfect crossing position to set Almiron up for the equaliser.

Souček instinctively met Declan Rice's rebounded effort from a second-half Bowen corner to give West Ham hope of an enormous away win, but just seconds later Shelvey took advantage of a defensive mix-up to steal two points away from David Moyes' side.


NEWCASTLE

Key Talking Point

Steve Bruce is giving his doubters something to think about!
Steve Bruce is giving his doubters something to think about! / Ian Horrocks/Getty Images

What's happening to Newcastle? Why are they somewhat...dynamic? Do they actually possess something resembling creativity in the side now? Under the same Steve Bruce who had them clobbering it to Joelinton all season?

Bruce is, perhaps, using the lack of pressure that an as-good-as-safe Newcastle are feeling to tinker with the side slightly and audition for the job that he already has, and with this often promising performance hot on the heels of their 4-1 destruction of Bournemouth, it might be working.

Saint-Maximin is finding much more time on the ball since the restart, while Dwight Gayle's inclusion in the side (dreadful missed sitters aside) has given the forward line some much-needed guile, giving Joelinton the opportunity to drop deeper and removing some creative pressure from Almiron.

Newcastle's savvy, tactically-aware manager of the future might just be working there right now.


Newcastle Player Ratings

Starting XI: Dubravka (6); Krafth (7), Lascelles (5), Fernandez (6), Manquillo (6); Shelvey (8*), Hayden (6); Joelinton (5), Almiron (8), Saint-Maximin (7); Gayle (7).

Substitutes: Bentaleb (6), Lazaro (5), Ritchie (N/A), Carroll (N/A).


Jonjo Shelvey

Shelvey was at his best today
Shelvey was at his best today / Ian Horrocks/Getty Images

Jonjo Shelvey is a curious player at the best of times, but when he decides to turn it on it can be truly irresistible, as was the case today in a Man of the Match performance.

Shelvey's line-breaking passes from deep are so crucial to Newcastle's aspirations towards becoming a Proper Football Side, and with Saint-Maximin flagging in the second half, he pushed up the pitch to dictate the tempo and make sure Newcastle could turn possession into chances.

Newcastle's best chance of the half ultimately fell to him – it wasn't the first time he'd taken advantage of some defensive confusion this season, as Chris Wilder may well remember – and he showed great speed of thought to trade passes with Gayle in the box and force an equaliser for the Magpies.


WEST HAM

Key Talking Point

Moyes will have wanted to build on the momentum generated by the Chelsea result
Moyes will have wanted to build on the momentum generated by the Chelsea result / Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

After the unexpected but exhilarating conquering of Chelsea, West Ham were perfectly poised to do the impossible, no, the unthinkable - winning two games in a row for the first time since August.

When Antonio smashed the ball home in just the fourth minute of proceedings, the unthinkable became extremely thinkable, before in true West Ham fashion they shrunk out of the competition and let Almiron in for the equaliser.

That equaliser seemed just a temporary roadblock to the fulfilment of West Ham's dream of back-to-back wins, and with the brilliant Rice having kept a fading Saint-Maximin quiet for the duration, when Soucek found himself free at a corner it surely, surely looked to be their day.

It's been West Ham's day so rarely in recent years though, and of course Fornals bafflingly played Gayle onside for an equaliser seconds after Soucek's goal. Safety? Not there yet.


West Ham Player Ratings

Starting XI: Fabianski (5); Fredericks (6), Diop (6), Ogbonna (6), Cresswell (5); Rice (8*), Soucek (7); Bowen (7), Fornals (5), Lanzini (5); Antonio (7).

Substitutes: Noble (6), Yarmolenko (6).


Declan Rice

Declan Rice has been excellent since the Premier League restarted
Declan Rice has been excellent since the Premier League restarted / Michael Regan/Getty Images

It might be the middle of July, but for Gareth Southgate watching Declan Rice today will have felt like Christmas come early - it looks like England might have finally been gifted with a international-class holding midfielder.

Rice was one of the few midfielders unafraid of standing up to the terrifying Saint-Maximin, using his body (and the odd foul) to put off the Frenchman where necessary, and holding together a West Ham defence which looks fit to implode whenever a modicum of pressure is applied.

He was even better on the front foot, varying his passes smartly to keep Newcastle guessing, and attacking Bowen's corner excellently to force Soucek's equaliser.

Jordan Henderson the best player in the Premier League? He might not be the best English player in his own position at the moment.


Looking Ahead

Newcastle will continue their relaxed conclusion to the season with the small matter of a trip to the Etihad Stadium to face Man City, having been knocked out of the FA Cup quarter-finals by the Cityzens earlier this season.

West Ham, meanwhile, will host Burnley on Wednesday, with the high-flying Clarets still in the hunt for European football.


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