West Ham eased to a 2-0 victory over Newcastle United on Saturday as academy graduates Declan Rice and Mark Noble scored first-half goals at London Stadium.
The Hammers closed back to within four points of seventh-placed Wolves with a comfortable Premier League victory that was set in motion by highly rated midfielder Rice, who nodded in early on.
Newcastle's defending had been generous for that strike and they were accommodating again as captain Noble tucked away a penalty later in the first period.
There was little by way of a response after the restart and, while West Ham can look up the table in the final months of the season, Newcastle are still not assured of top-flight survival.
An energetic start from West Ham was rewarded with the opener inside seven minutes as Rice evaded Fabian Schar from Robert Snodgrass' right-wing corner and headed down past Martin Dubravka.
And in a first half otherwise light on goalmouth action, more poor Newcastle defending shortly before the break saw Florian Lejeune dive in on Javier Hernandez in the area, allowing Noble to smash home from 12 yards.
Ayoze Perez screwed wide after he was sent through early in the second period, before Lukasz Fabianski held on as Salomon Rondon thundered in a low strike.
But there would be no comeback for the visitors, despite Rondon going close with a late free-kick, as West Ham completed a league double over the Magpies.
West Ham United (@WestHamUtd) March 2, 2019
What does it mean? Hammers looking up
Manuel Pellegrini was asked before kick-off about West Ham's hopes for European qualification and, while he spoke only of focusing on Newcastle, his players laid their credentials out in the following 90 minutes. The Hammers dispatched an in-form Magpies side with minimum fuss and will be aiming to hunt down Wolves.
Rice rises to the occasion
Watched by England assistant Steve Holland, Rice immediately caught the eye with his goal and a powerful all-round performance.
2 - Declan Rice has scored in two of his last four Premier League home games after failing to score in his first 19. Groovy.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) March 2, 2019
Lejeune lapse costs Magpies
Despite creating little, Newcastle recovered relatively well from a poor start and at least kept West Ham at bay, forcing the hosts back. But Lejeune's senseless decision to dive in on Hernandez all but ended the game as a contest, with the Magpies' recent sturdy defensive showings quickly forgotten.
Key Opta Facts
- West Ham have completed the league double over Newcastle for the first time since the 1998-99 season.
- Newcastle have lost 75 Premier League away games in London, more than any other side.
- West Ham have lost just one of their last eight home Premier League games, and are unbeaten in their last five at the London Stadium (W3 D2).
- Newcastle have enjoyed just two wins in their last 17 away Premier League games (D6 L9) are without a victory on the road in six (D2 L4).
- Since the start of last season, Snodgrass has registered 19 assists in the league, a haul only four players can better in the top four tiers (Marcus Maddison 28, Leroy Sane 24, Graham Carey 21 and Raheem Sterling 20).
- Noble has scored 22 penalties in the Premier League since his debut in August 2005 - only Frank Lampard (36), Steven Gerrard (31), Sergio Aguero (24) and Wayne Rooney (23) have scored more in that period.