Newcastle’s goalscoring woes disappeared as they found their cutting edge to ease past a woeful West Ham and move four points clear of the relegation zone.
Bruce believes his team’s first-half performance in east London was their “best 45 minutes” since he arrived in the summer. Newcastle had scored once in their previous five games and led when Ciaran Clark lost his marker from a free-kick to head in the opener.
The visitors doubled their lead from another set-piece when Federico Fernandez outjumped Hammers goalkeeper Roberto, who wandered off his line, to head into the empty net. Newcastle had plenty more chances to extend their lead, finally grabbing a third when Jonjo Shelvey clipped in a precise free-kick after half-time.
West Ham pulled one back when Fabian Balbuena bundled in from close range and set up a grandstand finish through Robert Snodgrass’s neat effort in injury time. But a dramatic equaliser would have been unfair on Newcastle, who hung on to spark wild celebrations in the away end at the full-time whistle.
West Ham need a ‘reality check’ after poor display
While the celebrating away end remained packed immediately after the final whistle, hordes of West Ham fans had already long left London Stadium in disappointment. After a promising start to the season the Hammers have slid down the table after five league matches without a win and are now only a point clear of Newcastle in 13th place.
Manuel Pellegrini’s side appear to have still not recovered from the scars of that humiliating League Cup defeat by League One side Oxford United which has proved to be the catalyst for this dismal run. The Hammers lacked ideas in the final third of the pitch, unable to create any clear-cut chances from open play in a first half dominated by Newcastle.
The home fans began to show their frustration, notably after keeper Roberto should have stopped Shelvey’s free-kick from creeping in, and had already left in their droves before Balbuena and Snodgrass sparked a fightback which had looked unlikely over the previous 70 minutes.
Ultimately it came far too late and produced a final scoreline which did not truly reflect Newcastle’s superiority. “It’s a bad result and it is a performance that isn’t West Ham like,” Hammers scorer Snodgrass told BBC Match of the Day. “We need a reality check and need to know we need to start getting points on the board. We need to be solid and resolute, we could have been four or five down. We can’t give teams a three goals start.”
‘I don’t understand why we played so bad’ – post-match reaction
West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini: “It is really difficult to explain why we played the way we did in the first 45 minutes. The last two games we played at home we started by pressing from the beginning, playing in the opposite half. I do not understand why we played so, so bad.”