WHO cares that Newcastle United’s front three are not scoring when they can contribute to a performance like this?

On a day when Joelinton, Allan Saint-Maximin and Miguel Almiron did everything except put the ball in the back of the net, Newcastle’s reputation as the most toothless team in the Premier League was well and truly demolished.

They might have needed two of their centre-halves to score, as well as outcast Jonjo Shelvey who excelled after being restored to the starting line-up, but it was their previously ineffective front three that repeatedly ripped West Ham apart.

“I’ve said before it takes time, for the lads who’ve come into the team, it’s not easy to adapt,” said a satisfied Steve Bruce. “It was only Allan’s fourth game and he, Almiron and Joe were terrific in their work.

“If they can play like that and we get the other side right, we’ll be okay. We were a threat and we caused them all sorts of problems.

“If I’m being critical, we missed too many opportunities. They don’t come around that often. Almiron was terrific. When he scores, which he will do, we’ll see an even better player.”

Before this game, Newcastle had not scored more than one goal in a match this season. Federico Fernandez had never scored a goal for the Magpies. Yet West Ham simply laid out the welcome mat.

Newcastle were always going to sit deep and hit the hosts on the break, but it seems nobody told West Ham

At 34, Pablo Zabaleta was chosen at right-back to marshal livewire winger Saint-Maximin, who gave him a predictably torrid afternoon. The only surprise was that the Argentinian emerged for the second half, but he was far from the sole culprit.

Manuel Pellegrini admitted before the match that his team were missing the presence of first-choice goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski. They certainly missed him when Shelvey’s free-kick slipped past the painfully slow dive of stand-in Roberto.

Newcastle’s first-half dominance was remarkable, with their goal glut beginning in the 16th minute after a lightning counter-attack. Issa Diop was forced to foul Miguel Almiron as the speedy Paraguayan threatened to burst into the area. Diop earned a booking, but worse was to come for the hosts when Shelvey whipped in the free-kick.

Joelinton rose highest at the far post to head the ball back across goal, and Ciaran Clark nipped in front of Aaron Cresswell to nod home.

If that was poor defending, West Ham outdid themselves six minutes later when a short corner found Jetro Willems, who lobbed a hopeful ball into the box.

Fernandez, eight yards out yet faced with neither Roberto nor any semblance of a defence, could not believe his luck as he tucked away a simple header.

It could have been five by half-time with West Ham being run ragged. Saint-Maximin charged clear from the halfway line, but his finish was too close to Roberto, before the French wide-man tip-toed into the Hammers area again but opted to pass to Almiron rather than shoot. Moments later, Shelvey’s curler from the edge of the box hit the crossbar.

Pellegrini hauled off Mark Noble and Andriy Yarmolenko at the break, sending on Manuel Lanzini and Albian Ajeti. It made no immediate difference. Newcastle had the ball in the net moments after the restart, but DeAndre Yedlin was offside.

It was only putting off the inevitable, with Shelvey nestling his 51st-minute free-kick into the back of the net.

West Ham mustered a comeback of sorts, with Fabian Balbuena scrambling in from a corner. As the match entered stoppage time, Robert Snodgrass volleyed in a second, but Newcastle held on to finish as deserved winners, with their one-goal winning margin an inadequate reflection of the extent of their overall dominance.

“When I look back, it could and should have been four or five, that would have been a true reflection with the chances we had,” said Bruce. “Then at the end you think, ‘Is it going to bite you?’ We tried hard to make it bite us, but I think that would have been unjust. That’s what we’ve been after.”