|match review copied from www.theguardian.com|
Declan Rice and Mark Noble lead West Ham to easy win over Newcastle
Nick Ames at the London Stadium
Date Published Sat 2 Mar 2019 19.33 GMT
West Ham’s supporters came in homage to Billy Bonds, around 20,000 of them taking their seats in the stand that adopted his name in a stirring ceremony before kick-off. They left lauding heroes present and future too and, for one night at least, the club’s modern existence sat in perfect harmony with its past.
Taking the emotion out of it, this was a functional and largely sterile win over a dreary Newcastle side. West Ham did what they had to do; they just could not have found two more appropriate men to do it.
Declan Rice is the most exciting player to come through their system in over a decade and set West Ham on their way with a header his feted predecessor would have appreciated. Mark Noble is a captain who strives to mould himself in Bonds’s image and his 42nd-minute penalty put the seal on a victory that the feeling around the London Stadium had demanded.
“You could feel the atmosphere before the game, the crowd was extra loud,” Noble said. “I know Billy Bonds quite well and he is a fantastic person and was a fantastic player. Everyone can look to him as an example for the football club.”
A visibly emotional Bonds had made his entrance to a rapturous reception, flanked by a guard of honour comprising 25 of his former teammates. He represented West Ham for a quarter of a century, including four and a half years as manager in the early 1990s, and they had put on some show to mark the occasion. The sense of affection as he cut the ribbon in front of the Billy Bonds Stand, the stadium’s eastern flank, was genuinely uplifting and the current crop duly fed from it.
“Six foot two, eyes of blue” was Bonds’s old terrace chant. Rice is just an inch shorter than that and when he rose to thud Robert Snodgrass’s corner past Martin Dubravka after losing Fabian Schär a little too easily, West Ham were ahead within seven minutes. They contained Newcastle for the rest of a stop-start half that was held up for several minutes by a bloody clash of heads between Aaron Cresswell and Javier Manquillo. The latter carried on, heavily bandaged, while Cresswell would depart before the break with what seemed an unrelated problem.
It did not derail West Ham, who could enjoy an energetic first start since May for the fit-again Manuel Lanzini. Shortly before the interval an overzealous challenge on Snodgrass from Sean Longstaff, a midfield tyro who has drawn somewhat excitable comparisons to Rice in some quarters, brought a free-kick that found Javier Hernández beyond the far post. He was clumsily clipped by Florian Lejeune as he manoeuvred towards the byline. It was indisputably a spot-kick and Noble converted emphatically.
Longstaff was replaced by Mohamed Diamé at half-time and could later be seen leaving the stadium on crutches. It epitomised a dispiriting affair for Newcastle, who caused a few flutters towards the end but never came closer than a Salomón Rondón free-kick that hit the post. “I’m not annoyed, I’m disappointed,” said Rafael Benítez, in a choice of words that is unlikely to have made anyone feel better. “We’re still in a relegation battle.”
They need another couple of wins before Benítez will entertain thoughts of discussing a new contract. West Ham, who threatened only sporadically in the second half but emitted an air of rare control, pleased Manuel Pellegrini by looking like “a solid team” and, sitting in ninth, can now look firmly upwards.
Like his skipper, Pellegrini noted how the tribute to Bonds had raised the noise levels. West Ham will contest far more exciting games but the all-round glow with which they departed has been some time in coming.
Daily Mail: MATCH FACTS, RATINGS, TABLE AND MATCH ZONE
West Ham (4-2-3-1): Fabianski 7; Fredericks 7, Diop 8, Ogbonna 8, Cresswell 6.5 (Masuaku 34, 6.5); Rice 8.5, Noble 7 (Obiang 80); Snodgrass 7, Lanzini 7.5, Anderson 7; Hernandez 7 (Arnautovic 68, 6)
Subs not used: Adrian, Nasri, Perez, Antonio
Scorers: Rice 7, Noble 42 (pen)
Booked: Noble, Masuaku
Manager: Manuel Pellegrini 7
Newcastle (5-4-1): Dubravka 5.5; Manquillo 5.5, Lascelles 5.5, Lejeune 5, Schar 5 (Dummett 65, 6), Ritchie 6; Perez 5.5, Hayden 5.5 (Atsu 79), Longstaff 5 (Diame 45, 6), Almiron 5; Rondon 5.5
Subs not used: Darlow, Ki, Muto, Yedlin
Booked: Schar, Longstaff, Hayden, Diame
Manager: Rafa Benitez 6
Referee: Chris Kavanagh