Rice on target for West Ham as Newcastle revival ends

Declan Rice passed his latest England audition as West Ham ended Newcastle’s recent revival with a 2-0 victory.

Rice, who last month switched allegiances from the Republic of Ireland to the country of his birth, scored the opening goal and put in another classy display in front of watching Three Lions assistant Steve Holland.

Mark Noble added West Ham’s second from the penalty spot to inflict only a second defeat in seven matches on Newcastle.

It was fitting that two tenacious midfielders were on the scoresheet on the day West Ham paid tribute to their original enforcer.

They officially opened the Billy Bonds Stand in honour of their former captain and record appearance maker, and the great and the good of West Ham including Sir Trevor Brooking, Alvin Martin, Pop Robson and Brian Dear, gave the 72-year-old a guard of honour.

Bonds was never capped by England but Rice is expected to receive his first call-up when Gareth Southgate names his latest squad on March 13, providing the paperwork goes through in time.

It is Rice’s defensive qualities; shielding the back four, snuffing out attacks and snapping into tackles reminiscent of Bonds in his heyday, which have caught Southgate’s attention.

But the 20-year-old has also developed an eye for goal and he opened the scoring after just seven minutes, rising above a static Newcastle defence to nod in a Robert Snodgrass corner.

It was a wake-up call for the visitors, but they never really got going all evening. Ayoze Perez did have the ball in the net midway through the first half, but the Spaniard had already been flagged offside.

Instead, Bonds looked on as the current West Ham skipper doubled their lead in the 42nd minute.

Javier Hernandez won a penalty when he was caught by Florian Lejeune and Noble stepped up to confidently lift his spot-kick past Martin Dubravka and high into the net.

Moments before half-time, Issa Diop preserved West Ham’s lead with a goal-saving tackle to deny Fabian Schar.

In the second half Hernandez just failed to convert Ryan Fredericks’ cross at the far post and then put Arthur Masuaku’s ball into the sidenetting.

Salomon Rondon took the game to West Ham in the closing stages but he was denied by last-ditch blocks from Masuaku and Angelo Ogbonna, and a fine save from Lukasz Fabianski, as West Ham capped a special day with a deserved win.

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Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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