Premier League - Best hat-trick sinks West Ham

Wed, 05 Jan 21:45:00 2011

Leon Best scored a hat-trick in his first Premier League start as Newcastle hammered West Ham 5-0 at St James' Park, sending Avram Grant's side back to the foot of the table.

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Two goals from Best and a strike from Kevin Nolan just before the break meant that West Ham's fate was sealed as they trailed 3-0 at half time.

Best completed his hat-trick with an emphatic strike on the hour, before Peter Lovenkrands steered home Joey Barton's cross to make it five.

While West Ham were woeful, Newcastle were inspired by Barton who, at times, was brilliant.

But for Avram Grant, not only will the result be bitterly disappointing, but the one-sided manner of the defeat will worry him.

The first half had been a tepid affair before Newcastle took the lead on 18 minutes.

West Ham captain Scott Parker came closest to scoring when he burst through a gap in the Newcastle defence before hitting a good effort from the edge of the box which Steve Harper could only palm away.

The game sparked into life when Best, making his first Premier League start, opened the scoring following an error by Frederic Piquionne.

Piquionne gave the ball away, allowing Barton to hoist a long ball forward to Best, who got ahead of the woeful James Tomkins to flick on to Lovenkrands. The Dane played the ball back to his strike partner who calmly slotted left-footed past Robert Green.

While never looking threatening, Grant's side looked like holding out until half time, but they were hit with two goals in the five minutes, which ended the game as a genuine contest.

And it was the sprightly Best who doubled his tally for the night on 39 minutes, crafted yet again by Barton.

Rather than shooting from 30 yards, Barton slipped a free kick into the path of Lovenkrands, who had peeled off the West Ham wall. Lovenkrands fired it across the face of goal to Best, who took a touch before firing home left-footed from close range.

West Ham's misery was compounded on the stroke of half time when Jonas Gutierrez's low cross from the left was intercepted by Tomkins, but his attempted clearance went straight to Nolan, who stroked it inside the far corner.

West Ham came out for the second half with good intentions but, in Carlton Cole, Piquionne and Victor Obinna, never posed a serious attacking threat.

And it only took Newcastle 15 minutes of the second period to reaffirm their superiority, and it came courtesy of Best's hat-trick goal.

Jose Enrique started the move with a purposeful run infield from the left. His pass was nudged on by Nolan into the path of Best, who took a touch to put the ball into his stride before firing home left-footed with aplomb.

Barely three minutes later it was five, and it came as no surprise that Barton was the provider again.

Barton wasn't closed down by Daniel Gabbidon on the right wing and whipped in a cross to the near post, where Lovenkrands had got ahead of Matthew Upson to finish easily.

West Ham, even with nothing to lose at five down, were incapable of creating any meaningful chances and Nile Ranger should have made it six after he managed to stab the ball wide from six yards for one of the misses of the season.

The win takes Newcastle up to eighth in the Premier League, with Grant's side having slipped to the foot of the table once again.

Michael Da Silva / Eurosport

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