Rafa Benitez’s Newcastle United picked up their first three points since mid-October with a dramatic 2-3 Premier League win away at David Moyes’ West Ham United yesterday afternoon.
The hosts had originally taken the lead in the early stages as Marko Arnautovic netted, they were pegged back just minutes later as Henri Saivet curled in from a free-kick, with Mo Diame netting against his former side just after the break.
Ghanaian formed Andre Ayew then missed from the penalty spot for the Hammers before Christian Atsu popped up to make it 2-3, Ayew then making up for his miss by getting his name on the scoresheet, pulling one back from a corner.
A costly defeat for the home side sees them fall all the way down to 17th, dangerously close to the bottom three over the festive period, whereas on the flip side of things, the Magpies’ first win in ten PL matches moves them out of immediate danger of the drop zone and into 15th place.
From the start in a festive East London, Hammers Boss Moyes decided on five alterations changes from his side’s Carabao Cup defeat away at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday evening.
In goal, Adrian San-Miguel came back in for Joe Hart, whilst Pablo Zabaleta and Cheikhou Kouyate returned for James Collins and Declan Rice, further up the field, Javier Hernandez and Domingos Quina were ousted in favour of Michail Antonio and Marko Arnautovic.
Whereas, Magpies Manager Benitez also made five changes to his starting Xl, who were also victims of a 1-0 defeat to Arsenal most recently, that one came last Saturday afternoon in the Premier League.
Coming into the side was Ciaran Clark, Henri Saivet, ex-Hammer Mohamed Diame, Matt Ritchie and Dwight Gayle, they took the places of Florian Lejeune, Mikel Merino, Isaac Hayden, Jacob Murphy and striker Ayoze Perez as they looked to claim a first triumph since mid-October.
On a chilly Christmas afternoon in Stratford, an entertaining affair would very much begin with a bang as there was end-to-end action right from Lee Mason’s first whistle.
After both sides had put pressure on each other, the affair had a goal after just six minutes, a real Christmas Cracker of a strike from the hosts’ cub-record signing.
Picking up the ball on his own half from a poor Saivet pass, the Austrian embarked on a terrific run on the counter-attack, eventually getting the better of Clark to fire low past Rob Elliot for a third goal in four games.
The strike raised the roof on the London Stadium, however, the Christmas joy of the home fans would last all of four minutes in East London as the away side hit back with an instant reply.
After a Newcastle attack was pulled back for a foul midway through the home side’s half, Saivet, the man whose mistake had led to the opening goal, stepped up.
What he would produce was truly magnificent, a curling effort from around 30 yards that gave Adrian little chance of keeping the ball out of his near post to equalise, the game had got off in thrilling circumstances and it would very much start as it meant to go on.
In the minutes that followed the leveller, the visitors struck the frame of the goal twice, first through Gayle from close-range and then a further out effort from Ritchie.
They finally got their reward, a deserved lead, just after the break and for Hammers fans, it could only be one man on the end of Atsu’s superb cut back to throw them behind.
This was, of course, Diame against his former club with an admirable finish high in the roof of the net, but once more, the team trailing were able to come back instantly, or at least it seemed so.
Just three minutes later, Antonio danced away from Clark and was hauled down by the Irish International with the Referee pointing to the pot after conferring with his Linesman on the far side.
Ghana International Ayew was to step up although he never quite looked sure of himself, striking a poor penalty that easily saved by Elliot diving away to his left.
It was the second spot-kick that the hosts had missed in under a month and the Toon soon made them pay by securing all three points to take home with them on their long journey.
A breakdown in communication between Arthur Masuaku and Zabaleta gifted the ball to Gayle, who found Atsu, able to play a give and go with substitute Joselu and squeeze the ball past Adrian sending the away fans into a frenzy.
Ayew was able to get himself on the scoresheet on 69 minutes after pouncing on the scraps of a header from ex-Magpie Andy Carroll from an Aaron Cresswell corner-kick.
But, the Toon put in a strong defensive performance to protect their lead late on in the tie and shatter Moyes’ unbeaten home run as Irons Boss, as well as his side’s run of three League clean sheets.
The Hammers will be looking to put that one behind them as soon as possible and will have an opportunity to do so on Boxing Day when they will travel to the Vitality Stadium.
Meanwhile, Benitez’s men will now be hoping to get some momentum going into the New Year, something that they can continue in three days’ time as they host the League leaders Manchester City.