Viduka brace fires Toon
Newcastle cruise to victory over Hammers
Last Updated: 23/09/07 5:53pm
Viduka: At the double
Newcastle bounced back from their shock defeat to Derby as they beat West Ham 3-1 at St James' Park to climb into the top five.
Mark Viduka gave The Magpies a perfect start as he powerfully headed Charles N'Zogbia's left-wing cross past Robert Green in only the second minute.
West Ham levelled in the 32nd minute when Carlton Cole beat Claudio Cacapa in the air and Dean Ashton capitalised with a sweet finish into the bottom right corner.
Newcastle's lead was restored four minutes before the break as Viduka bundled the ball home from close range after a terrific run by N'Zogbia.
Michael Owen was withdrawn early in the second half after appearing to aggravate his groin injury, before Newcastle pulled two goals clear through N'Zogbia after 76 minutes.
West Ham battled hard in an attempt to get back into the game but Newcastle's defence was considerably tighter than their own and they could do little as they slipped to their first defeat since the opening day of the season.
The visitors endured a disastrous start which had seen Viduka power home a second-minute header from N'Zogbia's near-post cross, but for much of the half, they were the better side.
Allardyce's men lacked width on the right with Alan Smith sitting in-field and Habib Beye getting forward from full-back only fleetingly.
That left Viduka and Owen isolated, and the Hammers prospered with Mark Noble forcing a fine one-handed save from Steve Harper.
On 32 minutes, West Ham's strike duo combined to beat Harper, Cole climbing well to flick on Lucas Neill's long throw for Ashton to fire into the bottom corner.
Owen, whose fitness has been the subject of an intense debate all week, was a largely peripheral figure, although he almost opened the door for Viduka once again six minutes before the break after running on to Nicky Butt's ball over the top.
The striker looked up before sending in an inviting cross, and it took a good block by Anton Ferdinand to keep out the Australian's header.
However, there was nothing Ferdinand, or anyone else for that matter, could do to deny Viduka four minutes before the break as he provided further evidence of the wisdom of Sam Allardyce's summer swoop for him.
Once again, it was N'Zogbia who created the opening, bursting past former Magpie, Lee Bowyer, from David Rozehnal's clearance before crossing to the far post for the former Middlesbrough front man to bundle home his second goal of the game and his third in a black and white shirt.
N'Zogbia wasted a 47th-minute free-kick in a promising position after Owen had shown a rare burst of pace to round George McCartney, but was felled in the process.
That proved to be Owen's last contribution of any note and he was replaced by Obafemi Martins four minutes later with the England international worryingly heading straight down the tunnel.
Rozehnal almost caught keeper Green on his heels with a left-foot drive from distance on 53 minutes, and Butt tested the keeper with an equally well-struck effort two minutes later.
But referee Mike Riley had to stop the game two minutes later after Noble reacted furiously to a robust challenge by Butt.
Harper saved well from Ashton's 64th-minute free-kick, which bounced dangerously in front of him, and Ashton flicked a header wide as West Ham rallied, but the home side were defending with greater resilience than they had before the break.
However, Harper had to be at his best once again in the 72nd minute when Bowyer latched on to Rozehnal's weak header and forced a fine save low to the keeper's right.
But N'Zogbia made sure of the points with 14 minutes remaining when he fed Martins on the left and then met his cross to make it 3-1, and the Nigerian should have added his name to the score sheet three minutes from time, but fired wide after rounding Green.
|Newcastle United||Team Statistics||West Ham United|
|2||1st Half Goals||1|
|4||Shots on Target||7|
|7||Shots off Target||4|
Barclays Premier League
|8||West Ham United||26||39|
|14||West Bromwich Albion||26||27|
|17||Queens Park Rangers||26||22|