Zog stormer helps erase Derby nightmare
Charles N'Zogbia inspired Newcastle United to all three points at St James' Park today.
The Frenchman knows he has competition on the left hand side these days with Spanish ace Jose Enrique now up and running - meaning he will have to fight for his place in Sam Allardyce's side.
But he responded in the best possible fashion with a superb performance against the Hammers.
United made two changes to the side that had lost so poorly against Derby County on Monday night with Senegal international Habib Beye replacing Steven Taylor and Shola Ameobi dropped all together with Mark Viduka taking his place.
And after a week of talk about which former Magpies would be taking the field to face their old club only ex-Toon bad boy Lee Bowyer appeared in the match at St James' Park.
Before kick off both sides participated in a minute's applause for tragic teenager Jordan Thompson who lost his life to cancer last Saturday with the former Academy kid's parents pitchside as the Toon Army paid their respects.
The emotional display was quickly followed by more noise with Newcastle snatching the lead on two minutes after James Milner fed left-back Charles N'Zogbia before the Frenchman swept it to the near post for Viduka who powered home a header to net his second of the season.
Yet it all went a bit flat for Newcastle after that as they allowed West Ham a route back into the game.
On 27 minutes came the warning shot from the Hammers as Mark Noble's low shot had to be tipped round the post by Steve Harper at Gallowgate.
Then five minutes later a long throw from Lucas Neill was flicked on via Carlton Cole's chest before Dean Ashton's crisp volley beat Harper to level the scores.
But Newcastle would go in with their tails up at the break.
With four minutes left N'Zogbia's overlapping run down the left resulted in the former Le Havre ace picking out Viduka, this time at the back post, before the big Aussie applied the finish to make it 2-1.
United aimed to start the second half in the same manner but their hopes were dashed when Owen was replaced by Oba Martins sparking fresh injuries fears.
However, United still tried to add to their tally with David Rozehnal, Nicky Butt and sub Martins both working England international Green before the hour mark.
But just like they had in the first period West Ham continued to press the home side, albeit without reward.
Yet there were Toon hearts in mouths on 71 minutes when Bowyer's effort from the edge of the box had to parried by Harper and cleared frantically by the United defence.
Those fears though went out of the window with just 14 minutes left when Alan Smith picked out Martins before the Nigerian rolled it across the face of goal for N'Zogbia to grab his third of the season to cap a wonderful display.
The French Under-21 star had been pushed up to the left wing after Jose Enrique's introduction for Viduka but he went level in the scoring charts with both the Aussie and Martins to make it 3-1.
The African star almost made it four near the end when he went round Green only to fire into the side netting.
But it couldn't spoil a great afternoon for Big Sam and United with plenty of plus points for the Geordie public.
UNITED: Harper, Beye, Rozehnal, Cacapa (Taylor 78), N'Zogbia, Smith, Geremi, Butt, Milner, Owen (Martins 51), Viduka (Enrique 73)
Subs not used: Given, Faye.
WEST HAM: Green, Neill, McCartney, Ferdinand, Upson, Ashton, Etherington (Spector 80), Cole (Camara 68), Noble, Mullins (Ljungberg 62), Bowyer.
Subs not used: Collins, Wright.
Ref: Mike Riley
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