Newcastle United survive in Premier League after fairytale finish
If Mike Ashley ever needed a warning to invest, this was it. His club, Newcastle United handed him a lifeline, after a terrific 2-0 win at home against West Ham United, in what was a nervy encounter. The Magpies had to win to survive in the Premier League, which would relegate Hull City who hosted Manchester United.
Take you pick from the most appropriate subplot for the match. There was former manager Sam Allardyce returning, who is best friends with Hull boss Steve Bruce, along with ex-Newcastle captain Kevin Nolan. If that wasn’t enough, the Hammers also had son of former Magpies skipper and club legend Rob Lee, Elliot on the bench who Allardyce brought on midway through the second half.
The first half was end-to-end, though it was the hosts who started the brightest, with a nervous Ashley viewing from on high.
When Emmanuel Riviere latched onto a cross from full back Daryl Janmaat with an ambitious acrobatic effort, it looked as though he may have scored, though the ball hit the side netting.
With the momentum pendulum constantly swinging, it was the visitors who produced the best effort of the first half.
When Stewart Downing scampered between centre back Mike Williamson and Janmaat and latched onto an Aaron Cresswell ball, the former Middlesbrough player and Sunderland loanee should have broken the deadlock, however Tim Krul did just enough in goal.
Renewed emphasis from Newcastle at the beginning of the second half, saw them playing the stronger. Five minutes after the restart though, followed perhaps the miss of the season. Janmaat fizzed it across the six-yard box, and Riviere looked a cert to score.
What followed was nearly 50,000 home fans heads in their hands. The striker didn’t even make contact, missing the ball completely, as West Ham launched a counter-attack.
Literally minutes later, the hosts were ahead though. Jonas Gutierrez weaved down the left and looped a cross into the area, for Sissoko to leap above two defenders and nod the ball past a helpless Adrian in goal. The din was deafening.
There followed almost 20 minutes of nervy defending, as the likes of Fabricio Coloccini and Jack Colback threw their bodies on the line for their club. It was heart in the mouth time for the home fans, midway through the second half, when Nolan leaped for a trademark header, however the ball trickled wide.
With 10 minutes to go, Vernon Anita, who had been outstanding, closed down a long range shot after a Hammers corner, and the Magpies launched an incredible counter-attack with a four on one. Agonisingly though Anita mistimed his square pass as Adrian got down to save.
History, however, repeated itself from earlier. With Newcastle pressing forward, the ball came back out to the edge of the area, and Gutierriez cut inside and pulled the trigger to nestle a shot into Adrian’s bottom corner. You couldn’t have written a more fitting script. Coming back from a cancer scare, to score the goal which confirmed his team’s safety was nothing less than a miracle, and a few weeks ago it looked as though the club needed one.
In the end, and fittingly, it was a survivor and a true Magpies servant who guaranteed Newcastle’s survival, though it was an all-round team effort that got them over the line, with the players also no doubt playing for interim boss and Magpies boss John Carver.