Pressure mounts on Pellegrini as West Ham wilt at home to Newcastle

Pressure mounts on Pellegrini as West Ham wilt at home to Newcastle
Newcastle United's Jonjo Shelvey (left) and Newcastle United's Ciaran Clark celebrate their win after the final whistle during the Premiership match at The London Stadium, London. PA Wire

Newcastle roared into a three-goal lead and then held off a late comeback to beat West Ham 3-2 at the London Stadium.

Goals from Ciaran Clark, Federico Fernandez and Jonjo Shelvey fired the Magpies to their second away victory of the season and hauled them away from the drop zone.

They were assisted by a comically inept display from Manuel Pellegrini’s expensively-assembled side, who were booed off at half-time and by those fans who had bothered to stay until the end.

Late goals from Fabian Balbuena and Robert Snodgrass gave the scoreline a flattering look that West Ham did not deserve.

Before this Newcastle had not scored more than one goal in a match this season. Fernandez had never scored a goal for the Magpies. Yet West Ham simply laid out the welcome mat.

Newcastle were always going to sit deep and hit the hosts on the break, but it seems nobody told West Ham.

At 34 Pablo Zabaleta was chosen at right-back to marshal livewire winger Allan Saint-Maximin, who gave him a predictably torrid afternoon.

The only surprise was that the Argentinian emerged for the second half, but he was far from the sole culprit.

Pellegrini admitted before the match that the team were missing the presence of their first-choice goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski. They certainly missed him when Shelvey’s free-kick slipped past the painfully slow dive of stand-in Roberto.

The debacle began in the 16th minute from a Newcastle counter-attack, Issa Diop forced to foul Miguel Almiron as the speedy Paraguayan threatened to burst into the area.

Diop earned a booking but worse was to come for the hosts when Shelvey whipped in the free-kick.

Joelinton rose highest at the far post to head the ball back across goal and Clark nipped in front of Aaron Cresswell to nod home.

If that was poor defending, West Ham outdid themselves six minutes later when a short corner found Jetro Willems, who lobbed a hopeful ball into the box.

Fernandez, eight yards out yet faced with neither Roberto or any semblance of a defence, could not believe his luck as he tucked away a simple header.

It could have been five by half-time with West Ham being run ragged.

Saint-Maximin charged clear from the halfway line but his finish was too close to Roberto, before the French wideman tip-toed into the Hammers area again but opted to pass to Almiron rather than shoot.

Moments later Shelvey’s curler from the edge of the box hit the crossbar.

Pellegrini hauled off Mark Noble and Andriy Yarmolenko at the break, sending on Manuel Lanzini and Albian Ajeti.

It made no immediate difference. Newcastle had the ball in the net moments after the restart, but DeAndre Yedlin was offside.

It was only putting off the inevitable, with Shelvey nestling his 51st-minute free-kick into the back of Roberto’s net.

West Ham did muster a comeback of sorts, Balbuena scrambling in from a corner and, as the match entered stoppage time, Snodgrass volleying in a second.

But it is now six matches without a win for the Hammers and, unless he can arrest the slide quickly, questions will start to be asked over Pellegrini’s position.

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