Toon drops points again as top-four hopes falter after Paqueta equalizes
LUCAS PAQUETA could have worn a black and white shirt if things had gone differently.
The Brazilian is a close friend of Toon favorite Bruno Guimaraes and has been linked with a move to St James’ Park for several months.
Instead, he joined West Ham in August with a club-record £51million after Eddie Howe switched to other targets.
And wouldn’t you know – the former Lyonnais became the first player to score a Prem goal against the Geordies since November 6.
His first-half goal ended a six-goal streak and denied Howe’s men a chance to cement their position in the Champions League spots.
And a streak of four draws in the last five games has just given the chasing group a glimmer of hope in the race for the top four.
But what a valuable point could prove to be for the Hammers and their boss David Moyes.
Newcastle fans were still in high spirits after watching their team reach Wembley for the first time in over two decades on Tuesday.
There was always a risk that this could have been something of an anti-climax as some of the Toon players eyed the Carabao Cup final in three weeks.
But nothing could have been further from the truth as Eddie Howe’s men got off to an incredible start.
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Just 40 seconds had passed when Miguel Almiron’s cut-back fell in the way of Joe Willock, who slid past a defender before hammering a shot into the corner.
But the celebrations were cut short when the VAR saw the ball had just crossed the baseline before the Paraguayan rolled over it.
But the toon didn’t let that get him down and within a few minutes they had met again – and this time it stood.
Mikhail Antonio lost the ball in his own half and Sean Longstaff sent Callum Wilson down the middle.
Although the former Bournemouth striker has not scored since October, he always looked confident as he passed Lukasz Fabianski.
Another VAR check followed – but this time there was no problem – Wilson was comfortably on the side as he ended his 10-game goals drought.
Wilson and Antonio are doing a BBC podcast together – no doubt they will have a lot to say to each other when the next one is taped.
In fact, on the last show he predicted he would score in four minutes – so he was only a minute away.
West Ham’s recent form on the road has been dismal – they have taken just five points away from home this season.
And Toon goalkeeper Nick Pope wanted to become the first England goalkeeper to keep seven consecutive clean sheets in the Prem.
So it was the worst possible start for the Hammers.
There were reports prior to their last win against Everton that David Moyes would have been sacked had they lost.
Instead, it was his opposite number Frank Lampard who got the boot.
But the Toffees’ shock win over Arsenal earlier in the day had brought West Ham back to the edge of the relegation zone.
However, to their credit, the visitors responded well to their early setback.
Lucas Paqueta shot Sven Botman in the face – but after treatment he was able to continue.
Said Benrahma fired high over the bar while Paqueta saw another try deflecting the try wide of goal – but from the resulting corner they were equal.
Declan Rice swung over the flag-butt and Joelinton’s head flicked the back post where the Brazilian lurked to get home.
It was the first time the Toon had conceded a goal in the league since November 6 – some 572 minutes of football.
But to be fair to the Hammers, it had come.
Things could have gotten even better for them when Vladimir Coufal’s free-kick was clipped to Nayef Aguerd just before half-time.
The visitors had a lot of possession after the break, but the Toon had the better chances.
The largely ineffective Allan Saint Maximin volleyed into the back post, but it was blocked by Coufal’s legs.
Joelinton went down in the box under a challenge from Aguerd but was only awarded a yellow card by referee Peter Bankes and no penalty.
But the Toon were increasingly frustrated without their captain Guimaraes – so they threw in new £40m signing Anthony Gordon in the last 20 minutes.
The ex-Everton man seemed determined to make an impression and brought a bit more life to the tiring Geordies.
His delightful pass clearly sent Wilson racing through the middle, but Aguerd came back for an excellent final ditch to deny it.
The striker missed another chance when a Kieran Trippier free-kick landed perfectly for him, but his header was aimed squarely at Fabianski.
Wilson had predicted on his podcast that he would score two goals in that game – maybe he should stick with the game after all.
https://www.the-sun.com/sport/7309908/newcastle-west-ham-wilson-paqueta/ Toon drops points again as top-four hopes falter after Paqueta equalizes