West Ham produced a superb second-half comeback to beat Newcastle United 4-2 in a thrilling match at St James' Park on Sunday.
David Moyes' side, who finished sixth in the Premier League least season, started the new campaign in impressive fashion — but not after being given a scare by the Magpies.
Newcastle — whose new £22 million ($30.4m) signing Joe Willock was watching from the stands after failing to register for his new club in time to play — took a fifth-minute lead after French attacker Allan Saint-Maximin turned Declan Rice inside out and crossed for Callum Wilson to head home his ninth goal in 11 career top-flight games against West Ham.
The Hammers deservedly levelled when Aaron Cresswell's low cross drifted across the box, evading the lunge of Tomas Soucek before Jarrod Bowen tapped in after the ball had crossed the line. An offside flag was raised against Bowen but the goal stood after consulting VAR.
Bowen had an excellent opportunity after ghosting past several Newcastle defenders only to be denied by goalkeeper Freddie Woodman on his debut.
Wilson’s cheeky backheel was kept out by Lukasz Fabianski while Miguel Almiron’s shot deflected on to the top of the crossbar as the match swung from one end of the pitch to the other.
Newcastle retook the lead five minutes before half-time when Matt Ritchie supplied a superb cross from the left that was headed home by Jacob Murphy.
But it was West Ham who took charge of the game in the second half. In the 53rd minute, Said Benrahma headed home at the back post after a fine left-footed cross by Michail Antonio.
Antonio then saw a bullet header cannon off the bar from point-blank range and ricochet back into the penalty area where Murphy then clumsily chopped down Pablo Fornals. Woodman went the right way and saved Antonio's penalty, but couldn't prevent Soucek bundling home the rebound after 63 minutes.
Three minutes later and it was four when West Ham launched another counter-attack and Antonio thumped home, equalling Paolo di Canio's record tally in the Premier League for the Hammers.
“I really enjoyed it, I thought we played well in the first half and if you come here in front of 50,000 supporters and go a goal down after three minutes, we showed a lot of character,” said West Ham manager David Moyes.
“We gave Newcastle a bit of a leg up with the goal before half-time, we did not deserve to go 2-1 behind. We kept at it, the players who performed really well last season have started well this season.”
Newcastle manager Steve Bruce admitted his side had paid the price for lapses at the back. “Defensively we've got to be better,” he said. “For me, the big turning point is the penalty.
"I know we've made a big thing of VAR, for the life of me I can't understand why the referee who is 10 yards away can't just come and check because I think he comes and checks then he thinks differently.
“It was a decent game in the first half, but defensively we have to admit we have to be better.”