Newcastle United failed to make the most of a dream start as they were held to a 1-1 draw at home to West Ham United that left them in fourth place in the Premier League on Saturday.
Callum Wilson raced clear to put Eddie Howe’s team in front after three minutes, shortly after Joe Willock had a goal disallowed for the hosts.
But West Ham recovered well and deservedly levelled just past the half hour mark when Lucas Paqueta fired a low shot home at the far post from a corner — the first league goal Newcastle have conceded since early November.
Newcastle dominated the second half but lacked the guile to find a way through West Ham’s defence as they drew for the fourth time in five Premier League matches to extend their unbeaten league run to 16.
They are on 40 points from 21 games, two points behind Manchester United who beat Crystal Palace earlier in the day.
West Ham are on 19 points from 21 games, one point above the relegation zone.
In the week that they reached their first domestic cup final since 1999 the atmosphere was buoyant at St James Park and the stadium was rocking as the hosts flew out of the traps.
Willock seemed to have put Newcastle ahead but Miguel Almiron had just failed to keep the ball in play before crossing. It was a let-off for West Ham but almost immediately they were punished again for a lacklustre start.
Sean Longstaff split West Ham’s defence with a perfect pass and Wilson timed his run to stride through and place his shot past keeper Lukasz Fabianski.
Newcastle did not build on their start though, and West Ham worked their way back into the contest and equalised when Declan’s Rice’s corner arrived at Paqueta who poked a shot through Kieran Trippier’s legs and past Nick Pope.
After the break Newcastle’s lack of goalscoring firepower returned to frustrate them as they huffed and puffed without creating much in the way of clear chances.
While Newcastle have the best defensive record in the top flight with only 12 goals conceded they have now scored only twice in their last five league games.
“It was a frustrating day really,” Wilson, who was denied a second by a superb Nayef Aguerd tackle when clean through, told Sky Sports. “I think we stopped doing the things that brought us success, a few sloppy passes here and there.
“We got the crowd going early but it tailed off.”