Newcastle 3-0 Southampton: Rafael Benitez's side ease to crucial victory
By Oliver Yew
Last Updated: 10/03/18 7:39pm
Newcastle recorded a crucial victory in the battle for survival in the Premier League, beating Southampton 3-0 at St James' Park on Saturday.
Kenedy was the man of the moment for the hosts, scoring his first goal for the club in the second minute to give Rafael Benitez's side the perfect start.
The Brazilian scored his second after a brilliant counter-attacking move featuring Ayoze Perez and Dwight Gayle in the 29th minute before Matt Ritchie (57) rounded off a comfortable afternoon's work for the hosts.
The win sees Newcastle move up to 13th in the league, five points clear of the relegation zone but defeat leaves Southampton perilously close to the drop zone in 17th, one point ahead of Crystal Palace and Stoke having played a game more.
Newcastle were handed the perfect start by Kenedy, who chested down Jonjo Shelvey's pass before turning and side-footing the ball past Alex McCarthy and into the bottom corner to score his first goal for the club.
Newcastle: Dubravka (6), Yedlin (7), Lascelles (7), Lejeune (8), Dummett (7), Ritchie (7), Shelvey (8), Diame(7), Kenedy (8), Perez (7), Gayle (7).
Subs: Joselu (6), Atsu (6), Merino (n/a).
Southampton: McCarthy (6), Soares (6), Stephens (6), Hoedt (5), Bertrand (6), Redmond (6), Ward-Prowse (6), Lemina (4), Hojbjerg (5), Tadic (4), Carrillo (5).
Subs: Long (5), Sims (6), Gabbiadini (5).
Man of the match: Jonjo Shelvey.
The goal gave the home fans a huge early lift and Benitez's players responded to the backing from their supporters as Shelvey snapped into a tackle to win the ball back in midfield before playing a brilliant pass through to Gayle, whose touch let him down with only McCarthy to beat.
Southampton struggled to find any sort of foothold in the game and they should have been further behind when Mohamed Diame dispossessed Mario Lemina, but Gayle's shot was smartly saved by McCarthy low down to his left.
The second goal eventually came though, and Lemina was involved again, slipping on the edge of the Newcastle penalty area to allow Perez to break forward on the counter-attack and pick out Gayle in the penalty area. The striker could have easily taken on the shot himself but he showed brilliant vision in sliding the ball to Kenedy, who had a tap-in at the far post to finish off a scintillating Newcastle counter-attack.
Rafael Benitez made three changes to the Newcastle side that lost 2-0 to Liverpool last weekend. Shelvey, Perez and Ritchie replace Merino, Atsu and Murphy, who all drop down to the bench. Meanwhile, Southampton made two changes from the side that drew 0-0 with Stoke last week. Ward-Prowse and Hojbjerg replace Sims and Romeu, who both drop to the bench.
Southampton responded by sending on Shane Long and Josh Sims on at the break for Lemina and Dusan Tadic but Mauricio Pellegrino's side continued to struggle.
And they were further behind in the 57th minute when Shelvey, who had acres of time and space on the edge of the penalty area, laid the ball off for Ritchie, who stroked the ball into the bottom corner.
Southampton did eventually muster up a couple of shots on target through Guido Carrillo and Sims but Martin Dubravka, who had a quiet afternoon, kept both out to compound what was a miserable afternoon for the Saints.
Despite Dubravka's late work, Newcastle remained relatively untroubled as they secured a victory which sees them take a positive step towards remaining in the Premier League.
- Newcastle kept a clean sheet for the first time in 13 league games against Southampton, since a 1-0 win in October 2003. Benitez's side also scored as many goals this afternoon as they had in their previous six combined at St James' Park in the Premier League (3).
- Ritchie's strike was the 12th goal Southampton have conceded from outside the box in the Premier League this season, more than any other side.
- Kenedy's opener was his first in the Premier League for Newcastle and his second overall in the competition. His first came after 39 seconds (vs Norwich in March 2016), while the first goal today came with 63 seconds on the clock.
- After a run of 10 Premier League games without a goal or assist, Gayle has had a hand in four goals in his last four appearances in the competition (two goals, two assists).
- Shelvey provided two assists in a Premier League game for the fourth time, and first since May 2015 for Swansea against Stoke.
Rafael Benitez: "This result can give us a lot of confidence and belief. In the end, it's just what you need when you are in this type of situation. There are a lot of teams trying to avoid relegation but we have confidence that we can do it. There are still a lot of games to play but at least you know you can play in this way and you can get points. We have confidence we can do it."
Mauricio Pellegrino: "I haven't seen my team compete in this way this season without the spirit you need to compete at this level. Sometimes you can play badly, sometimes you can make mistakes but you have to react. We have to say sorry to our fans because we didn't represent the values of the club. In this situation we have to react as quickly as we can."
Man of the Match - Jonjo Shelvey
Kenedy proved to be the matchwinner for Newcastle after scoring his first goals for the club but Shelvey was at the heart of all that was good in his side's 3-0 victory.
Neat and tidy in possession, the 26-year-old ran the game from central midfield and picked out Kenedy for his opening strike before laying the ball on a plate for Ritchie to pick out the bottom corner.
Replaced in the 83rd minute, Shelvey received an excellent ovation from the St James' Park crowd, who recognised his contribution to what could prove to be a vital three points in their bid to beat the drop.
Newcastle are not in action next week due to Tottenham's involvement in the FA Cup. With an international break also on the horizon, Benitez's side have a long wait for their next match on Saturday March 31 against Huddersfield at St James' Park.
Meanwhile, Southampton are involved in the FA Cup and they travel to Wigan next Sunday (1.30pm) with an opportunity of reaching the semi-finals.