Newcastle take points after ding-dong battle with West Ham
Round-up: Stoke win takes pressure off Hughes; Swansea earn point; Brighton find net and win
West Ham’s Marko Arnautovic scores the opening goal despite a challenge from Newcastle United’s Ciaran Clark during the Premier League game at The London Stadium. Photograph: Ian Kington/AFP/Getty Images
West Ham 2 Newcastle 3
Newcastle halted their alarming slide and ended West Ham’s recent revival by edging a five-goal thriller 3-2 at the London Stadium.
Marko Arnautovic gave the Hammers, who had a spring in their step following recent wins over Chelsea and Stoke, a sixth-minute lead.
Andre Ayew, who had earlier missed a penalty, pulled one back but Newcastle held on for victory, their first win in 10 matches, to ensure they will not spend Christmas in the bottom three.
The first 10 minutes of an often barmy match were simply the Saivet show, remarkable given the Senegal midfielder had barely been seen in almost two years – his last league appearance for the Magpies was in February 2016.
Saivet made an immediate impact, although not the desired one when he gifted the ball to Arnautovic in the centre of the pitch.
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.
The back five which had earned West Ham three successive clean sheets was suddenly not looking quite so robust and Gayle passed up another chance when he sidefooted Javier Manquilo’s cross off target.
Solid defending has hardly been Newcastle’s strong suit either, and Michail Antonio should have done better with the free header he planted wide before the interval.
Eight minutes after the break Newcastle forged ahead through a familiar face in east London.
Atsu raced past Pablo Zabaleta and his low cross was met with an emphatic finish from former Hammers midfielder Diame.
Moments later West Ham were gifted the chance of an equaliser when Clark fouled Antonio in the area.
In the absence of regular penalty taker Mark Noble, Ayew stepped up but his his stuttering run-up was followed by a weak penalty which was palmed away by Elliot.
Buoyed by their let-off, and helped by some comical defending between Zabaleta and Arthur Masuaku, Newcastle doubled their lead when Astu raced clear and exchanged passes with Joselu before tucking away the third.
With 20 minutes left Ayew, woeful from 12 yards, showed he is still deadly from two as he snaffled the rebound after Elliot had blocked substitute Andy Carroll’s header.
West Ham piled forward looking for an equaliser but Newcastle held firm to record a much-needed first win since October for manager Rafael Benitez.
Stoke 3 West Brom 1
The pressure on Stoke manager Mark Hughes eased a little following a 3-1 home victory against West Brom.
Five defeats in the previous six Premier League matches had dragged Stoke towards the relegation battle, but Hughes said in the build-up to the game he did not feel defeat here would spell the end of his four and a half years in charge.
Chairman Peter Coates, however, described Saturday’s fixture against the second-from-bottom club as “one we need to win.”
It looked like Stoke would comfortably oblige after first-half goals from Joe Allen and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting put them firmly in control but West Brom rallied at the start of the second half and Salomon Rondon halved their deficit.
However, the Baggies were unable to get anything from the game, with Ramadan Sobhi grabbing a third for Stoke in stoppage time to leave Alan Pardew still looking for his first victory since taking over as manager five matches ago. More worryingly, his group of players are without a Premier League win for 17 matches.
Swansea 1 Crystal Palace 1
Leon Britton’s first game as Swansea caretaker manager ended in a 1-1 home draw against Crystal Palace.
But substitute Jordan Ayew rescued a point 13 minutes from time with a thunderous 20-yard drive – his second goal of the season, with his previous Premier League strike coming against Palace at Selhurst Park in August.
Britton – half the age of Palace boss Roy Hodgson – oversaw a vastly improved display from a Swansea side who had scored only 10 goals in 18 games under Clement this season.
But Swansea will still spend Christmas bottom of the league as they seek to make a swift managerial appointment.
Brighton 1 Watford 0
Pascal Gross struck a second-half winner as goal-shy Brighton ended their seven game winless streak with a deserved 1-0 victory over out-of-form Watford.
Albion had not found the net from open play for more than 10-and-a-half hours when German midfielder Gross cut on to his right foot and let fly with a 64th-minute drive which flew under Watford goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes.
The well-earned win was much needed for Seagulls manager Chris Hughton, ending a run of three points from a possible 27 while inflicting a fourth successive loss on the Hornets and putting a little more pressure on their boss Marco Silva.
The margin of success should have been more resounding as Brighton dominated for large periods of the contest and Lewis Dunk, Tomer Hemed and Anthony Knockaert each squandered excellent opportunities to make it 2-0.
With their strong start to the season having turned a little sour in recent weeks, Watford appeared devoid of confidence and direction for much of the match, although Richarlison and Stefano Okaka wasted superb late openings to snatch a point.
Southampton 1 Huddersfield 1
Austin fired Saints into the lead but later avoided sanction despite catching Huddersfield goalkeeper Lossl in the nose in a bad-tempered south coast affair.
The striker could face retrospective punishment from the Football Association for his actions, with a three-match ban a possibility, while Lossl managed to play on undeterred after lengthy treatment.
Austin’s fifth strike in five starts was cancelled out by Laurent Depoitre’s third goal in as many games however, as the Terriers fought back for a share of the spoils.
Saints frontman Austin later hobbled off with a leg issue as injury cut short his mixed afternoon.
The draw left Southampton with just one win in 10 Premier League encounters, maintaining pressure on manager Mauricio Pellegrino.
The Saints boss will also be forced to field further enquiries about defender Virgil van Dijk, omitted entirely from the match squad and still a January transfer target for Liverpool and Manchester City.