Southampton 3 Newcastle 3
By James Pearson
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Newcastle United's hopes of qualifying for next season's UEFA Champions League are over following an exciting 3-3 draw at Southampton, despite leading twice in the game.
James Beattie equalised Shola Ameobi's early opener, however Lee Bowyer put the visitors ahead for a second time.
An own goal from Titus Bramble and late Leandre Griffit strike gave the home side the lead for the first time before Darren Ambrose's last-gasp strike rescued a draw.
The Saints made a positive start to the contest, with Anders Svensson beating Steve Caldwell outside the box but his left-footed effort only found Shay Given in the visitors' goal.
However, their work was undone when Ameobi latched onto Olivier Bernard's long ball before holding off the challenge from Claus Lundekvam and guiding the ball past Alan Blayney.
Given was almost caught out on 12 minutes when his poor clearance went straight to Fabrice Fernandes, but the Frenchman's cross only found Brett Ormerod who failed to convert from close range.
The home side continued to push forward, however Yoann Folly was unlucky to see his goal-bound effort superbly saved down low by Given before Bernard cleared.
Southampton were deservedly level after 19 minutes when the Magpies defence were too generous with the space they gave Svensson in the box and he was given time to shoot, with Beattie on hand to tap home the rebound from point-blank range.
The visitors responded to losing their lead with Gary Speed firstly testing debutant Blayney from long-range while Ameobi should have done better in the box after collecting Kieron Dyer's pass.
Caldwell was lucky to escape conceding a penalty after 32 minutes when he bundled Beattie over in the box, however referee Graham Poll opted against awarding a spot-kick.
Just a minute after Bowyer fired straight at Blayney he was celebrating his second Premiership goal of the season after lashing Ameobi's cross into the net in the blink of an eye.
The visitors barely had time to catch their breath before Saints were back on level terms. The impressive Fernandes crossed from the right only for Bramble to put into his own net after Caldwell missed the ball at the near post.
Southampton could have been down to ten men before half time when Fitz Hall appeared to bring down Alan Shearer when he was the last man, however Poll waved play on.
Newcastle came out all guns blazing after the break in search of the goal that would bring their Champions League destiny back in their own hands.
They were unlucky on a number of occasions with woodwork and Blayney consistently denying the visitors the all-important goal.
Caldwell was unlucky when his back-post header crashed off the bar and rebounded to safety and moments later Ambrose's long-range effort also rattled the woodwork.
Shearer rarely misses gilt-edged chances but with the goal at his mercy from a right-wing cross his downward header was somehow guided over by the impressive Blayney.
After weathering the pressure from the visitors, Saints struck back and Svensson was unlucky to see his effort drift just wide after collecting the ball on the half way line and running at Newcastle.
With the match flowing from end to end, The Magpies broke back immediately, but again Blayney was on hand to palm Ameobi's stinging shot away from the danger area.
Bowyer almost netted his second of the game after 85 minutes when Kenton's clearance hit Shearer and dropped to the former Leeds man in the box but again Blayney made the save.
With Newcastle looking more likely winners, Southampton went ahead when substitute Griffit escaped from Bernard and slid the ball under Given at the near post.
Ambrose did ensure the visitors avoided defeat with a late long-range goal in the third minute of injury time, however it proved too little too late for Sir Bobby Robson's men.