NEWCASTLE United played some “sublime” football at Upton Park – but it was the team’s stubbornness which earned them all three points.
That was the verdict of Newcastle manager Alan Pardew.
Pardew’s side raced to a 2-0 lead thanks to goals from Yohan Cabaye and Loic Remy after playing some of their best football so far this season in the first half, but suffered a setback with a late own goal from Mike Williamson, who inadvertently put the ball past Tim Krul under pressure from Carlton Cole.
And they had to withstand a second-half bombardment from Sam Allardyce’s Hammers before Cabaye’s stunning injury-time free-kick settled the game.
“First half, we were sublime, really,” Pardew said.
“The only real disappointment out of the whole day was that goal we conceded. We should have been going in at 2-0 looking forward to the second half, and playing the same way.
“But once that went in, it was always going to be a different game.”
Former Newcastle striker Andy Carr-oll – who came off the bench – missed an open goal, as did Cole.
And Pardew, whose team had lost their previous four games, was heartened by the resilience Newcastle showed under pressure from a desperate West Ham side.
“You had Andy to come off the bench, and (Ravel) Morrison,” added Pardew, whose side are eighth in the Premier League ahead of their January 28 visit to Norwich City.
“The crowd were going to get involved. We had to show a different side to our play, which we did. We stood up to a really good West Ham performance, and ended up winning.”
Newcastle were, indeed, irresistible for 45 minutes. They were pacy and purposeful, and should have been out of sight by the time Williamson helped the ball into his own net in first-half injury time.
Up to then, they had been dominant. West Ham lacked ideas with the ball, and lacked intelligence without it.
By contrast Newcastle attacked at will, and Cabaye was at the heart of everything.
He broke the deadlock in the 16th minute, skipping past an attempted challenge from Razvan Rat before side-footing the ball past goalkeeper Adrian.
Chances came and went for Newcastle, and the second goal came in the 33rd minute. Matt Taylor couldn’t cut out a Moussa Sissoko cross from the right, and Loic Remy chested the ball down and poked it past Adrian.
The second half was a different story.
Cole and Andy Carroll missed good chances, and Newcastle, their backs pressed up against the wall, had to be resolute and resilient.
Ball after ball was launched into the visiting box. But Pardew’s back four, which, like Allardyce’s, had been weakened by injury and suspension, held firm, and Cabaye capped the win with his stunning free-kick deep in injury-time.
Newcastle’s squad are now in Abu Dhabi for a warm-weather training camp. Behind the scenes, meanwhile, the Magpies are set for further talks with Montpellier over attacking midfielder Remy Cabella.
Cabella is one of the club’s transfer-window targets along with Borussia Monchengladbach striker Luuk de Jong, who is available for loan.
Montpellier coach Rolland Courbis – who claimed Newcastle was “not a big club” after Saturday’s win over Sochaux – has left negotiations over Cabella to owner Louis Nicollin.
“I hope another club tries to buy him,” said Courbis. “They are not a big club. As a player, I wouldn’t even want to spend a week there.”
West Ham: Adrian, Taylor, Johnson, Collins, Rat, Collison (Morrison 46), Noble, Downing, Diame (Carroll 62), Jarvis (Joe Cole 73), Carlton Cole. Subs not used: Chambers, Maiga, Diarra, Jaaskelainen. Goals: Williamson 45 og.
Newcastle: Krul, Yanga-Mbiwa, Williamson, Steven Taylor, Santon (Dummett 74), Tiote, Anita (Shola Ameobi 60), Sissoko, Cabaye, Gouffran, Remy (Ben Arfa 78). Subs not used: Cisse, Haidara, Elliot, Obertan. Goals: Cabaye 16, Remy 33, Cabaye 90.
Att: 33,343. Ref: Andre Marriner (W Midlands).