By Hughie Southon
Declan and Nayef Aguerd were outstanding for the Hammers at Newcastle and it was no surprise to see them take their place in front of the Sky cameras following the game.
Nayef received the man of the match award and thoroughly deserved it for what was an immense defensive performance particularly in the second half when Hammers backs were to the wall.
Declan, meanwhile – despite all the talk of him moving in the summer – gave everything he had as ever and made perfect sense when discussing this and the upcoming games.
To respond against a Newcastle side today who had not conceded a Premier League goal since early November looked a tall order after the Bar Codes’ whirlwind start but West Ham did just that and ended the opening period with nine shots on goal to Newcastle’s two.
Importantly, they also had an equaliser thanks to Paquetá’s close-range finish – and the Hammers battled after the break to ensure they would go home with tangible reward.
Captain Rice hailed the importance of the result against the team who came into the weekend third in the table.
“It’s massive,” he said. “As a group of lads, we know how important these games are. We need to be picking up points in every game. Today was vintage West Ham.
“We dug in, ran our socks off and had chances. You’re not always going to dominate the ball but we slowed the game down as much as we could and it’s a good point for us.
“Their goal was schoolboy stuff but we showed our personality. We could have had one or two but a point was a fair result.
“I think the momentum’s starting to come back. The levels are starting to rise again. We’ve got another big game next weekend [at home to Chelsea]. We want to keep the momentum going. If we keep heading in the right direction we’ll be fine.”
It was a sentiment shared by Aguerd, who gave a colossal performance at the back, including a wonderful recovery tackle to deny Callum Wilson the chance of a second towards the end.
“Before the game we knew Newcastle at home are very tough to play,” he added. “I’m very proud of the lads. It’s a massive point.
“When they scored the first goal we were very upset. We said at half-time, if we can’t win we can take one point. The reaction from the lads was fantastic.
“[The tackle on Wilson] was a little bit risky but I’m here to defend and help the team. If I don’t tackle him I think he scores.”