West Ham recover from poor start to earn battling point at Newcastle
Lucas Paqueta dented Newcastle’s Premier League charge as West Ham came from behind to draw at St James’ Park.
The 25-year-old Brazilian, a summer target for the Magpies, clinched a 1-1 draw with a 32nd-minute equaliser after Callum Wilson had ended his 10-game drought with an early strike.
A point was no more than the Hammers deserved after recovering from a dreadful start in front of a crowd of 52,256 to deny Eddie Howe victory in his 600th game as a manager.
The Carabao Cup finalists badly missed the suspended Bruno Guimaraes, and even the introduction of £45million January signing Anthony Gordon for his debut could not get them over the line.
If Howe had feared any hangover from Tuesday night’s semi-final success, he need not have worried – at least early on – as his side raced out of the blocks.
Joe Willock had already seen a first-minute strike ruled out by VAR after the ball had run out of play during the build-up when Wilson latched on to Sean Longstaff’s defence-splitting pass to fire confidently past Lukasz Fabianski, his first goal in 11 appearances in all competitions.
The shell-shocked visitors found themselves pinned back deep inside their own territory as Longstaff, Kieran Trippier and Willock worked to feed Miguel Almiron and the returning Allan Saint-Maximin at regular intervals.
However, as they grew into the game, the Hammers started to threaten on the break and Sven Botman had to make an important block after Michail Antonio had worked his way into a promising position on the edge of the box.
To their credit the visitors, who had been made to pay for their catastrophic defending, looked far more compact as the half wore on and while Newcastle still enjoyed plenty of possession, they lacked any real penetration.
West Ham might have been level with 28 minutes gone had Said Benrahma not spooned his shot high over Nick Pope’s crossbar after the Magpies had surrendered possession inside their own half, and Paqueta went close twice within seconds, seeing his first attempt blocked and his second deflected wide, with the home side guilty of sloppiness.
The South American was not to be denied, however, and stabbed home at the far post after the Newcastle defence had failed to deal with the excellent Declan Rice’s corner.
Benrahma dragged an effort wide after cutting inside Fabian Schar with David Moyes’ men gaining the upper hand, prompting a concerted response from the hosts with Joelinton and Longstaff making their presence felt in an increasingly physical midfield battle.
The Hammers picked up largely where they had left off after the restart, defender Nayef Aguerd flicking a 50th-minute header high and wide from Benrahma’s cross after a sustained spell of pressure.
Vladimir Coufal made an important block from Saint-Maximin’s volley four minutes later as Newcastle hit back, but for all the effort they expended, genuine chances proved elusive, prompting Howe to throw on Gordon with 21 minutes remaining.
Wilson might have doubled his tally twice as time ran down, Aguerd’s superbly-timed challenge and Fabianski’s safe hands denying him in quick succession, and his side ultimately had to settle for a point.