EPL Weekend Wrap-up: Jonas and Sissoko Rescue Newcastle

Newcastle United 2-0 West Ham United

Sissoko for Newcastle

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All John Carver’s men needed was a win on Sunday to stay in the top flight. Going into the final match of the Premier League campaign, Newcastle United sat just two points above Hull City and the drop zone and were in arguably the worst form in the league failing to win since February. The team standing between them and safety, Sam Allardyce’s West Ham United who were coming off of two straight defeats.

Things got off to an exciting start at St. James’ Park with both sides exchanging scoring chances as Newcastle’s Emmanuel Riviere’s acrobatic volley came just inches of putting the hosts in front. Neither side was able to establish a dominant position and Newcastle’s push for survival looked to have stalled. The only actual shot on target came from West Ham in the 24th minute when Stewart Downing found himself one-on-one with Tim Krul but the Dutch keeper stood tall and kept things level. Going into the locker rooms, the two sides were still deadlocked at 0-0.

Less than ten minutes into the second half, Newcastle finally got the vital goal. Jonas Gutiérrez managed to find the head of Moussa Sissoko in the box, and the French midfielder expertly powered his effort past a helpless Adrián in net. The hosts nearly found a second eight minutes from time when Vurnon Anita sprung free on a counter-attack with just the keeper to beat. Anita took the unselfish route and tried to find Papiss Cisse but Adrián made a vital intervention and squelched the attack. The dagger for West Ham came in the 85th minute when Gutiérrez, who miraculously came back to the squad after beating testicular cancer earlier in the year, had his shot deflected into the net and safety was all but assured for the hosts.

The victory for Newcastle guaranteed that they would be playing in the top flight next season, but fans are still skeptical about whether owner Mike Ashley will properly invest in the club to push them up the table. For the visitors, the loss meant that they would finish the season 12th in the table, but the Fair Play standings earned them a spot in next year’s Europa League. However, they will venture into Europe under new management as Sam Allardyce was sacked at the conclusion of the match.

Hull City 0-0 Manchester United

In the other relegation-deciding match, a struggling Hull City needed a win with some help from the Newcastle result to stay in the first division. Steve Bruce’s Tigers had fallen to three straight defeats in the league, but looked a revitalized team when they took the field on Sunday. The team with the chance to send Hull down: Bruce’s former employers Manchester United. The mighty Red Devils had looked anything but intimidating in their previous matches despite drawing against Arsenal and beating Crystal Palace in their last two fixtures.

From the start, the hosts looked the dominant side as they pinned back United and dominated the scoring chances, other than an early Wayne Rooney strike that struck the bar. You could almost feel the pain of Hull City’s fans as they twice saw potential goals called back for offsides. It was Ahmed Elmohamady who nearly put the Tigers in front in the 19th minute, but Manchester United debutant Victor Valdes made a miraculous save to deny the midfielder’s header to keep the sides level. Louis van Gaal’s side lacked the chemistry and attacking force that normally defines a Manchester United team at the KC Stadium and the 18th-placed side clearly looked the more determined side through the first half.

In the final 45 minutes, the hosts continued to press and look for a potentially season-saving goal. David Meyler should’ve scored just three minutes into the half, but he powered his effort well over the bar and the search for a breakthrough continued. In the 73rd minute, it was former Everton striker Nikica Jelavić who found himself with an opportunity to score, but Valdes again made a wonderful save to deny the Bosnian’s close range effort. A silly studded challenge from Marouane Fellaini forced United to finish the game with ten men, but even with the man advantage Hull was unable to find the winner and the score ended the way it began, 0-0.

The draw meant that Hull City would return to the Championship next season as they finished three points behind Aston Villa in 18th position. On the other side, the result confirmed what many fans had already expected as Manchester United cemented their fourth place finish. The top-four position puts United back in the Champions League for next season, but the Red Devils face a pesky qualifying match in August to guarantee their place in the group stages.


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About the author: Collin Carpio


I am currently a senior at the University of Missouri in the Journalism School. I have been an avid follower of Manchester United since 2006 and of course I support the Stars and Stripes. Due to my St. Louis high school allegiances, I am a big supporter of Brad Davis and Sporting KC in MLS.


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