Football: Barnes takes over from Tino

West Ham United 0 Newcastle United 1 Barnes 44 Attendance: 25,884
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The Independent Online
There are some similarities between West Ham and Barcelona. Their respective kits, for example, are probably the only two in Europe untainted by sponsorship logos. That Barcelona refused to sully their sacred strip as they had no need for the cash is another matter. They are also joined by losing to Newcastle in the same week.

To the Newcastle manager Kenny Dalglish, his side's two most recent wins should be regarded with equal importance. Wednesday's Champions' League defeat of Barcelona proved they can beat the best and this John Barnes- inspired victory showed they can succeed when the going gets tough.

They showed the organisation and resilience to justify their position as Premiership title contenders in a game that the Newcastle of old could have lost by a wide margin.

The first goal in a Newcastle shirt from Barnes was enough although no one in the black and white strip looked likely to walk off with the match ball this time - maybe they noticed it had been sponsored by the local "Barcelona Tapas Bar".

Faustino Asprilla, Newcastle's hat-trick scorer from their midweek win over Barcelona, showed his appetite for goals had not been sated when he ran at the West Ham penalty area in the opening seconds. But the Colombian was promptly blocked by Harry Redknapp's recently reinforced defensive wall, with pounds 2m Blackburn Rovers signing Ian Pearce standing firm in the middle.

It was West Ham's striker of the month, the Welsh international John Hartson, who looked the most likely to score early on. It would have been a spectacular trio, but he could have claimed a hat-trick of his own in the first 15 minutes.

The first and best chance came from a sixth-minute David Unsworth free- kick which Hartson headed down with power and goalkeeper Shay Given tipped over the bar at full stretch.

Eyal Berkovitch pulled back from the by-line four minutes later and this time Hartson lifted the ball over the bar from eight yards. The Welshman then did remarkably well to head a far post Stan Lazaridis centre against the crossbar but proved that there is such a thing as an impossible angle in football.

Asprilla, meanwhile, was not getting much of a look-in at the other end. Newcastle were struggling to break out of their own half and their lone forward was starved of service. He managed to create a half-chance for himself when he ran clear down the left and shot across the face of goal in the 19th minute.

An off-target shot by Barnes, jeered by the home fans for moving to Newcastle ahead of their team, was less threatening.

So West Ham attacked again, Hartson went close again and Berkovitch struck a free-kick so well that the supporters at the other end thought he had scored. The longer West Ham went without a goal, however, there was a sense that Newcastle would not be so lenient when and if their chance came.

That opportunity arose surprisingly quickly as Barnes shot Newcastle into a 44th-minute lead. Asprilla held the ball on the edge of the penalty area and then back-heeled to Barnes, who curled a left-foot shot into the corner from 20 yards out.

Newcastle only deserved their half-time lead by virtue of Barnes's superior finishing, but the goal gave them the confidence to start passing fluently when the second half kicked off.

West Ham still created the most attacks on goal yet grew increasingly frustrated at their inability to take their chances. Hartson missed what could have been his sixth goal and Given showed his shot-stopping skills when Lazaridis and Berkovitch finally kept their aim true.

Newcastle's need to push further ahead was made less urgent by West Ham's poor finishing. The visitors seemed happy to limit themselves to attacks on the break and even then they nearly doubled their lead when Steve Watson had a shot well saved by Ludek Miklosko.

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