Sunday 19 May 2019

Boss Rafael Benitez hoping Newcastle kick on after win at West Ham

Rafael Benitez, pictured right, saw his side triumph at the London Stadium
Rafael Benitez, pictured right, saw his side triumph at the London Stadium

Rafael Benitez hopes the 3-2 win at West Ham will signal the start of Newcastle's revival.

The Magpies arrived at the London Stadium on the back of a horror run of nine games without a win and just one point from a possible 27.

But the visitors came out on the right side of a five-goal thriller to climb out of the relegation zone with a win Benitez believes can reignite their season.

"I hope so," the Spaniard said.

"It's difficult when you have a bad run. What was really important was to win, and to have a good performance against a good team.

"It is important not to be in the bottom three at any time, not just at Christmas."

The afternoon started terribly for Benitez after Marko Arnautovic gave the Hammers a sixth-minute lead.

Henri Saivet was handed a shock return to an injury and suspension-hit Newcastle midfield after almost two years since his last league appearance.

Saivet made an immediate impact, although not the desired one when he gifted the ball to Arnautovic in the centre of the pitch.

The Austrian still had plenty to do as he charged from the halfway line, but he outstripped lone defender Ciaran Clark before slotting past Rob Elliot for a third goal in four matches.

However, Saivet redeemed himself almost immediately, lifting a 25-yard free-kick over the West Ham wall and inside Adrian's near post to bring his side level after 10 minutes.

Former Hammer Mohamed Diame, the other member of Newcastle's unfamiliar midfield pairing, then tucked in Christian Atsu's cross to give his side the lead.

Moments later West Ham were gifted the chance of an equaliser when Clark fouled Michail Antonio, and, although the challenge was just outside the area, referee Lee Mason pointed to the spot.

In the absence of regular penalty-taker Mark Noble, Andre Ayew stepped up but his stuttering run-up was followed by a weak penalty which was palmed away by Elliot.

Atsu promptly hit Newcastle's third and, although Ayew, woeful from 12 yards but deadly from two, pulled one back with a tap-in, the visitors' wait for a win was finally over.

"We had problems in midfield but Henri understands the game and we know he can take a free-kick," Benitez added.

"Him and Diame did really well. It was a great day for our players, fans and everyone.

"We have been working so hard for many games and have deserved more."

West Ham had taken seven points from their previous three outings against Chelsea, Arsenal and Stoke, but boss David Moyes was not impressed with their latest display.

"It was a t otally error-strewn game," the Scot said. "We made big mistakes and overall we can't blame anyone but ourselves.

"Even at 2-1 when we get a chance to get back in the game we miss a penalty kick.

"If we'd won we'd be talking completely differently about our league position - this game could have made a big difference."

Press Association

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