Hammers 2 Mags 4
Saturday 17th December 2005
WEST HAM UTD 2 NEWCASTLE UTD 4
WEST HAM: Carroll, Repka (Aliadiere 76), Ferdinand, Collins, Konchesky, Benayoun (Bellion 62), Fletcher, Mullins, Etherington, Harewood, Zamora.
Subs Not Used: Dailly, Newton, Hislop.
NEWCASTLE UTD: Given, Ramage, Boumsong, Bramble, Elliott, Solano (Bowyer 79), Faye, Parker, Ameobi, Shearer, Owen.
Subs Not Used: Harper, Luque, Chopra, Gate.
Remember when we couldn't get a win in the capital to save our lives? Well those days seem a long way off as the Mags travelled home from London on a road paved with gold. Michael Owen scored a superb hat-trick; Alan Shearer put him within arm's reach of Jackie Milburn's club goalscoring record; and Graeme Souness celebrated his 50th Premiership game in charge of Newcastle with a fabulous win.
Owen notched his first treble for the club since his £16million arrival from Real Madrid and suddenly, rather than players talking of a Champions League place, the springboard is there for them to prove they are good enough to do it. The league positions don't tell any lies, and the players know it.
The kick-off at Upton Park had been delayed for half-an-hour due to a road accident close to the stadium but Owen was quicker off the mark than the home defence when he latched on to Shearer's headed pass to dink the ball over the advancing Roy Carroll.
The home side briefly threatened to make a game of it when they levelled the scores in the 19th minute when Nolberto Solano defelected the ball past Shay Given. Titus Bramble, attempting to clear Marlon Harewood's right-wing cross into the six-yard box, succeeded only in finding Solano's shins and the ball rebounded into the net.
But Owen, ably abetted by warhorse Shearer, undid the Hammers again two minutes before the interval. This time Solano was the provider though, making amends for his own goal blunder by supplying a perfect free-kick into the penalty area for Owen to deftly head beyond the flat-footed Carroll.
Newcastle did not have it all their own way in the opening 45 minutes though and Bobby Zamora was unlucky not to put West Ham in front in the 28th minute. But Newcastle were always a threat going forward and in the 40th minute a clever move almost brought them a second goal. A long ball from Ramage was knocked into the path of Scott Parker by Shearer but the former Chelsea midfielder saw his 20-yard effort flash past the left-hand upright.
The second half started in a sloppy fashion with neither sides putting two passes together. In the 51st minute Shola Ameobi stopped Benayoun on the edge of the penalty area with a deliberate foul that brought the Newcastle player a yellow card.
West Ham were almost level for a second time when Robbie Elliott made a hash of an attempted clearance to leave Harewood with a clear scoring chance, then James Collins had a goalbound effort hooked off the line by Shearer.
Then up at the other end Shearer scored Newcastle's third in the 65th minute with his first-ever goal at Upton Park. The goal, courtesy of a slide rule pass from Owen, looked to have ended West Ham's interest but they bargained without the unpredictability of Ameobi. He inexplicably handled the ball in the 73rd minute to allow Harewood to slot home the resultant spot-kick and give the home side a lifeline.
But only a fine save by Carroll prevented Owen from completing his hat-trick in the 85th minute when he did well to stop the England man's header from dipping into the roof of the net. However, a counter-attack in the final seconds of injury time saw Owen score his third from a pass by Amdy Faye.