Ciaran Clark opened the scoring for Newcastle

Newcastle United’s goalscoring woes disappeared as they found their cutting edge to ease past a woeful West Ham and move four points clear of the Premier League relegation zone.

Steve Bruce’s side, who had scored once in their previous five games, led when Ciaran Clark lost his marker from a free-kick to head in the opener.

The visitors doubled their lead from another set-piece when Federico Fernandez outjumped Hammers keeper Roberto, who wandered off his line, to head into the empty net.

Newcastle had plenty more chances to extend their lead, finally grabbing a third when Jonjo Shelvey clipped in a precise free-kick after half-time.

West Ham pulled one back when Fabian Balbuena bundled in from close range and set up a grandstand finish through Robert Snodgrass’s neat effort in injury-time.

But a dramatic equaliser would have been unfair on Newcastle, who hung on to spark wild celebrations in the away end at the full-time whistle.

Best we’ve played under me – Bruce

Newcastle’s problems have been laid bare over the first three months of the season, with supporters given little to cheer about by a toothless attack that had not scored more than once in any of their opening 10 Premier League games.

That all changed in a perfect away day for the Toon Army.

Bruce’s side were organised defensively and rarely threatened until the Hammers’ late fightback, while clinically punishing their opponents at the other end.

Even though the opening two goals came from set-pieces, Newcastle constantly caused panic in the home defence through their pacy counter-attacking and should have enjoyed a greater margin of victory at London Stadium.

French youngster Allan Saint-Maximin was a particular nuisance throughout, causing veteran Hammers full-back Pablo Zabaleta all sorts of problems with his speed and trickery.

Saint-Maximin, 22, started to stretch the home defence and twice could have extended the lead when he sprinted through on goal only to be denied by Hammers keeper Roberto on both occasions.

Brazilian striker Joelinton has been criticised for a lack of goals since his £40m move from German club Hoffenheim but teed up Clark’s opener with an unselfish header back across goal from Shelvey’s free-kick and worked hard throughout.

Paraguayan winger Miguel Almiron was also lively for the visitors, only to be again let down by his end product and spurning a chance late on to score a fourth and ease the pressure.

“If we’re being ultra-critical it could have been slightly better and a little easier,” Bruce told BBC Match of the Day.

“The first half was the best we’ve played since I came to the club.

“We were rock solid and plenty of chances. If we had taken them it could have been four or five.”

More to follow.

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