West Ham United 2 Newcastle United 4: Shearer and Owen show makes miserable viewing for Hammers

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The Independent Online

Graeme Souness compared them to two great strike partnerships he played with, Kenny Dalglish and Ian Rush at Liverpool and Gianluca Vialli and Roberto Mancini at Sampdoria. Yet Newcastle's manager had one regret about Michael Owen and Alan Shearer. "Someone said to me at half-time how dangerous they looked," he said. "I said: 'I wish they were both 25'."

West Ham dominated for long periods. Newcastle, with Scott Parker setting the example, worked hard and defended well, but their passing was not up to standard.

However, when your forward line consists of the Premiership era's best traditional centre forward and its most instinctive goal-scorer, anything is possible. Shearer moved within one goal of Jackie Milburn's Newcastle record of 200 and laid on Owen's opener. Owen, who set up his partner's goal, scored three.

Shearer said that Owen, returning after a hamstring injury, was "the difference between us being an average side and a very good side." With their £16m signing from Real Madrid, Newcastle have taken 19 points from eight games, in which Owen has scored seven goals. Without him they have six points from 27.

"As a team we've got a lot of goals in us," Owen said. "When we've got everybody fit, we have a lot of creative players and the big man up front. You can get on the end of his flicks and he's good on the floor as well.

"I don't think anyone in their right mind will say Alan Shearer will stop scoring goals until the day he hangs up his football boots. I will be the same. No matter what I might lose it will always be my instinct to score. I seem to have this ability to know where the ball is going to be."

Souness added: "I could sense that West Ham's whole back four were very nervous. They know that as well as being exceptionally quick, Michael has a really sharp brain."

The goals demonstrated the two strikers' work rate, movement and intelligence. Owen harried Tomas Repka into a mistake and finished smartly after exchanging passes with Shearer. The second came off Owen's shoulder following Nolberto Solano's free-kick, but the key was the striker's clever positioning.

Shearer's was a beauty. The veteran forward made a dummy run, moved into space and drove home from his partner's pass. Shearer was also central to the fourth, drawing a tackle before releasing Amdy Faye, who gave Owen the simplest of finishes.

West Ham will play much worse and win this season. In the space of a minute at 2-1 down, Shay Given saved Marlon Harewood's shot with his feet, Hayden Mullins rattled a post from 25 yards and Shearer cleared off the line from James Collins. Alan Pardew's team were positive and lively throughout, but lost Yossi Benayoun, the player most likely to unlock Newcastle's defence, early.

It was significant, however, that both West Ham goals were gifts. Titus Bramble's attempted clearance cannoned off Solano into the net and Harewood converted a penalty after Shola Ameobi had clumsily handled.

"I felt we were in control all the time," Pardew said. "We had some great chances to make it 2-2. When they went astray that probably cost us the game. We made a few mistakes and we got punished by a world-class duo."

Goals: Owen (5) 0-1; Solano (og20) 1-1; Owen (43) 1-2; Shearer (66) 1-3; Harewood (pen73) 2-3; Owen (90) 2-4.

West Ham United (4-4-2): Carroll; Repka (Aliadière, 76), Ferdinand, Collins, Konchesky; Benayoun (Bellion, 62), Fletcher, Mullins, Etherington; Harewood, Zamora. Substitutes not used: Hislop (gk), Dailly, Newton.

Newcastle United (4-4-2): Given; Ramage, Bramble, Boumsong, Elliott; Solano (Bowyer, 79), Faye, Parker, Ameobi; Owen, Shearer. Substitutes not used: Harper (gk), Luque, Chopra, Gate.

Referee: P Dowd (Staffordshire).

Booked: West Ham United Carroll, Ferdinand, Etherington; Newcastle United Bramble, Ameobi, Parker.

Man of the match: Owen.

Attendance: 34,836.

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