This is what happened at the final whistle after Newcastle United's stunning London Stadium win
They still didn’t score. But it didn’t matter.
As 3,000 jubilant fans celebrated in the away end, Steve Bruce congratulated each and every Newcastle United player as they left the field following yesterday’s 3-2 win over West Ham United at the London Stadium.
Bruce reserved a special embrace for an exhausted Miguel Almiron, who had ran himself into the ground for 90 minutes. Bruce later said Almiron had been the “best player on the pitch”.
As Bruce spoke to the 25-year-old on the touchline, Allan Saint-Maximin was being embraced by the club’s jubilant travelling fans. The winger threw his shirt into the away end to a huge cheer.
The build-up to the game had been dominated by talk of Almiron, Saint-Maximin and Joelinton, the club’s £77.5million front three, and their lack of goals.
They’d scored one goal between them. They’ve still only scored one goal between them, but the team, at least, is creating chances – and finding the net.
Newcastle had scored six goals in 900 minutes of Premier League football before their visit to the London Stadium. They scored three goals in a blistering 51 minutes – Ciaran Clark, Federico Fernandez and Jonjo Shelvey were on target – but that statistic doesn’t tell the whole story.
Saint-Maximin had two one-on-ones with goalkeeper Roberto, while Shelvey, recalled to the starting XI, struck the post. Newcastle, driven on by Almiron, were dominant until the last 20 minutes, when Manuel Pellegrini’s side scored twice.
Those Saint-Maximin opportunities, in particular, were remarkable. West Ham, chasing the game, were leaving huge spaces behind them, and Saint-Maximin had the pace to get himself into those spaces. What he didn’t have was a finish.
Newcastle counter-attacked again and again. They had pace and movement, and West Ham just couldn’t handle Saint-Maximin until his withdrawal.
All three goals came from set-pieces, but fans saw enough in open play to hearten them ahead of a long winter.
The players themselves were frustrated at the goals they conceded late in the game, and that’s another positive. They want to improve, both collectively and individually.
Let’s just hope that this performance says more about an improving Newcastle side – and less about a shambolic West Ham team.