Belfast Telegraph

Friday 31 October 2014

Best too good for Hammers

Leon Best

Leon Best reminded Andy Carroll that there is more than one striker on Tyneside as Newcastle thrashed West Ham 5-0.

Best, making his first Barclays Premier League start for the club in the absence of the injured Carroll and Shola Ameobi, opened his account on his 15th appearance with a fine hat-trick to repay a large slice of his £1.2million transfer fee.

Best's first-half brace and skipper Kevin Nolan's 45th-minute strike put the Magpies in the driving seat, and the Republic of Ireland striker completed his treble on the hour before Peter Lovenkrands helped himself to a fifth.

Best made his first appearance of the season as a substitute against Wigan at the weekend after a miserable run of injuries had hampered his progress on Tyneside.

But he needed just 18 minutes to justify his selection when he ran on to Lovenkrands' ball over the top to thump a left-foot volley across Robert Green and into the bottom corner.

The home side increased their lead six minutes before the break when a quick-thinking Joey Barton and Lovenkrands carved the sleeping visitors open from a free-kick.

Barton picked out the Dane's run into space and when he slid the ball across goal, Best was again on hand to fire home left-footed.

It was 3-0 on the stroke of half-time when Jonas Gutierrez once again found space down the left and sent in a low cross which James Tomkins could only stab out to Nolan two yards inside the penalty area.

Nolan was a model of composure as, with Green desperately trying to recover his ground, he sidefooted the ball firmly into the bottom corner.

Newcastle killed off the game with 30 minutes left when Nolan turned Jose Enrique's pass into the unmarked Best's path and he completed his hat-trick with aplomb, while Lovenkrands added a fifth three minutes later.

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