West Ham United 2 Newcastle United 4

Last updated : 17 December 2005 By Footymad Previewer
The Magpies' masterclass of Michael Owen and Alan Shearer gave West Ham a chilling lesson in finishing at a freezing Upton Park.

Going into World Cup year, the on-looking England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson must have been mightily warmed to see Owen plunder a hat-trick and also create another goal for his veteran strike-partner Shearer.

And back-to-back victories for the gritty Geordies also took the heat off under-fire manager Graeme Souness as Newcastle moved into 10th place, level on points with a West Ham side left reeling from the Owen onslaught.

Back in the summer, though, few would have bet on the Hammers going into Christmas in ninth-spot with a welcome 25-point haul with more than half the season still to play.

And on another day such East End elbow grease and endeavour could so easily have yielded something from this exciting encounter.

Following two wins out of three on a 10-day sojourn away from Upton Park, Alan Pardew's line-up was unchanged from the side that beat Everton 2-1 at Goodison Park on Wednesday.

Having got the better of Arsenal in last weekend's bruising encounter with Arsene Wenger's whiners, Souness predictably fielded the same 11, as the Magpies sought their first win at Upton Park since 1997.

Certainly, West Ham started with more vigour as the Tynesiders survived a couple of early goalmouth scrambles before Carl Fletcher sent a scorching low 20-yarder into Shay Given's ribcage.

The kick-off was delayed by half-an-hour after the Newcastle team coach became embroiled in the congested East End traffic, but on five minutes, the visitors' first attack of the afternoon saw them find a clear path to goal.

The electricity and experience of Owen and Shearer had always looked set to test the raw underbelly of a Hammers' central defence boasting just 19 Premiership starts between Anton Ferdinand and James Collins.

And after ambushing the hesitant Tomas Repka, Owen's simple one-two with partner in crime Shearer on the edge of the area created sufficient space for him to drill an angled 12-yard shot through the clutches of the woefully exposed Roy Carroll.

Having fallen behind to a defensive blunder, West Ham had a similar mistake to thank for their equaliser, too, when Marlon Harewood climaxed his powerful 20th-minute charge down the right-flank with a low cross into the six-yard box which deflected off Titus Bramble onto Nolberto Solano's shin and beyond Given.

Buoyed by their lucky leveller, West Ham continued to threaten and after the in-form Bobby Zamora was denied a fourth goal in four games by the outstretched leg of the Newcastle keeper, Fletcher blasted into orbit while Ferdinand also saw his looping header saved.

A teasing run by the tricky Yossi Benayoun was then crudely halted by Bramble at the cost of a yellow card and although Scott Parker drilled a low 12-yard shot inches wide as the interval approached, West Ham were looking comfortable.

But with just two minutes of the opening period remaining, that man Owen again outwitted the Hammers defence when he cleverly peeled off his marker and headed Solano's well-flighted, inswinging, free-kick beyond the furious, dissenting and consequently booked Carroll from six yards, to suddenly change the whole emphasis of the respective half-time talks.

Having cruelly fallen behind to Owen's sixth strike of the campaign, Alan Pardew sent his men back out for the second half with a clear mandate to attack, and Shola Ameobi soon became the third name to go into referee Dowd's book for a desperate trip on the probing Benayoun that was to be the catalyst for his eventual replacement by David Bellion.

Meanwhile, Hayden Mullins rocked Given's right-hand post with a powerful 25-yarder that fizzed through a pack of bodies and as West Ham continued to pile on the pressure, Shearer of all people cleared Collins' shot off the line before Harewood sent another angled drive ripping into the side-netting.

A United goal was inevitable. However, no-one among the 34,836 Upton Park crowd expected it to come from Newcastle.

Once again, the St James' Park front pair had too much fluidity and flair for the static home rearguard and when Solano and Owen combined midway through the second half, Shearer claimed his eighth goal of the season when he finished off a clinical Magpies raid with a low angled eight-yard shot that gave Carroll no chance.

Bookings for Ferdinand and the workaholic Parker followed as the game continued to ebb and flow and, on 73 minutes, Paul Konchesky's deep free-kick was inexplicably handled by Ameobi.

Taking a minimal run-up, top-scorer Harewood confidently sent the resulting spot-kick into the bottom right-hand corner to again give the Hammers hope with his eighth goal of the season.

With substitutes Jeremie Aliadiere and Bellion added to the strike-force West Ham forced a few more frantic goalmouth scrambles and as the seconds ticked down, even Carroll raced forward to bolster the attack.

But that Cockney desperation was to prove West Ham's undoing as two minutes into injury-time, with the home defence fully stretched, another lightning Toon raid saw Owen claim the 11th hat-trick of his career with a simple tap-in.

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