Newcastle cruise to season-opening win over West Ham
West Ham - Newcastle saw Callum Wilson celebrate a dream debut for Newcastle United as he scored the opening goal in the Magpies’ 2-0 victory over West Ham United, opening the 2020-21 Premier League season with three massive points, at the London Stadium on Saturday.
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Jeff Hendrick, who also made his debut and picked up the formal assist on Wilson’s goal, completed the scoring with a laser-like strike in the 87th minute.
The victory sees Newcastle match their win total from their first seven games (five points in total) in 2019-20, as Steve Bruce and Co., strive for a top-half finish after making three key additions to the side that finished 13th last season.
3 things we learned: West Ham - Newcastle
1. Instant impact: Wilson only completed his transfer to Newcastle (for $23 million) five days ago, yet it was Wilson who shone brightest and led Bruce’s side to the win on Saturday. Deployed alongside Andy Carroll in the classing “big man-little man” strike partnership, Wilson provided endless energy and movement between the lines and across channels. His 56th-minute goal was merely the cherry on top of a very bright debut. The move to a club of Newcastle’s size appears to have suited Wilson quite well, and he has a solid platform upon which to build. It’s amazing what can happen if you spend money, and do so wisely, to improve your team.
2. West Ham crying out for quality signings: The Hammers finished 15th last season, just five points clear of relegation, yet David Moyes’ employers have done precious little to improve the squad. Tomas Soucek was signed for $19 million, and he looked rather handy during Project Restart and again on Saturday, but the rest of the midfield and the wide attackers were completely bereft of ideas and creativity against Newcastle.
3. West Ham, Newcastle not exactly for the neutrals: Look, David Moyes and Steve Bruce have long, halfway successful managerial careers spanning the last two decades, but neither of them has ever been accused of being “too attacking” or “too progressive” in how their teams are set up to play. Saturday’s clash was an exercise in one team defending counter-attacks on one end of the field, followed immediately by implementing a counter-attack of their own on the other end, with the roles switched at the change of possession.
Man of the Match: Callum Wilson - Even without the goal, he was the most impactful player on the field.
West Ham were thoroughly frustrated after hitting the woodwork twice during a first half which saw them dominate their visitors from the northeast. Angelo Ogbonna struck the crossbar with a header in the game’s opening stages, and Pablo Fornals was also denied by the bar not long before halftime.
Newcastle, meanwhile, were held to a handful of hugely speculative efforts from the edge of West Ham’s penalty area. Jonjo Shelvey, Wilson and Carroll all went close, but never close enough to force Lukasz Fabianski into a first-half save, with long-range efforts.
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Wilson broke the deadlock just before the hour mark. Magpies fans won’t care the slightest bit that his first goal for the club in a completely unremarkable manner. Javier Manquillo beat his man down the right wing and got the ball into the box, where Hendrick was able to flick it on to Wilson inside the six-yard box. There were suspicions of a high boot from the former Bournemouth man, but video review confirmed the goal was to stand.
Hendrick opened his account with time ticking away, and he did so seemingly out of nothing. Miguel Almiron, who had just come into the game seconds earlier, found Hendrick in an innocuous part of the penalty area, with a defender nearby, but the Irishman was able to get the ball out from under him rather quickly and unleashed a left-footed strike to the far post.