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Magpies make it difficult but steal away with a win

NEWCASTLE UNITED squeezed home at London Stadium on Saturday, at the end of a game they should have run away with by half time.

Magpies manager Steve Bruce was right when he said that his side “could and should have had four or five by half time.”

The problems began for West Ham in the 15th minute, when Issa Diop gave away a free kick on the left-hand side. Jonjo Shelvey duly delivered, his cross nodded back across by Miguel Almiron for Ciaran Clark to head home.

Six minutes later home keeper Roberto came for a Jetro Willems cross but missed, allowing Federico Fernandez to head home.

A couple of minutes later, the big keeper made amends, coming out to save with his feet as Allan Saint-Maximin raced clear before blocking the second shot from Almiron.

Shelvey then came close, hitting the bar from 20 yards and Maximin then seemed to be breaking away at will — gathering a long kick to bring another save out of Roberto.

Maximin finished the half, forcing Roberto to push a bending shot round the post.

West Ham’s sole effort of note in the half was a Fabian Balbuena header that Martin Dubravka pushed onto the bar.

After the break, any hopes of a West Ham revival were short-lived. Five minutes in, Shelvey curled in a free kick from 25 yards to go 3-0 up.

The boos from the home crowd were growing as the stadium began to empty.

West Ham did up the pressure in the last quarter, with Balbuena side-footing home an Anderson corner that had been nodded on by Sebastien Haller.

Then, with a couple of minutes to go, Robert Snodgrass converted an Anderson pull-back from the edge of the penalty area. But it was too little too late.

Bruce was full of praise for his front three players, who have taken a lot of criticism over recent weeks. “They didn’t score but did everything but,” said a delighted Bruce, who explained how it takes time for players — especially when coming in from abroad — to adapt to Newcastle and the team.

West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini defended his goalkeeper, who could have been faulted on two of the goals.

The Hammers manager highlighted how things had not been right since the 4-0 drubbing away to Oxford United in the League Cup at the end of September.

“We are not winning, confidence is not high and there is a lack of energy,” said Pellegrini. “We must review what we are doing.”

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