Southampton soared to the top of the Premier League for the first time in their history as Che Adams and Stuart Armstrong were both on target in a comfortable 2-0 win over Newcastle.
Just over a year on from the nadir of their 9-0 home defeat to Leicester, Ralph Hasenhuttl's side continued their resurgence in style as Adams' sweet seventh-minute volley sent Saints on their way.
Theo Walcott and Jan Bednarek both wasted good opportunities to double the home side's lead before Karl Darlow's superb save kept out Oriol Romeu's fierce drive.
But Armstrong pounced on a Sean Longstaff mistake to steer in a deserved second (82) as Southampton moved above Liverpool at the summit. The result leaves Newcastle in 11th ahead of the weekend's remaining Premier League fixtures.
Southampton: McCarthy (7), Walker-Peters (7), Vestergaard (7), Stephens (7), Bednarek (7), Romeu (7), Ward-Prowse (8), Walcott (7), Djenepo (7), Armstrong (8), Adams (8).
Subs: Long (n/a), Redmond (6).
Newcastle: Darlow (8), Lewis (6), Schar (6), Lascelles (5), Fernandez (6), S. Longstaff (5), Hendrick (4), Almiron (5), Murphy (5), Saint-Maximin (5), Wilson (5).
Subs: M. Longstaff (5), Carroll (5), Joelinton (6).
Man of the match: Stuart Armstrong.
How Saints rose to the summit
It caps a remarkable 12 months for Hasenhuttl after his side were thrashed 9-0 by Leicester last October and facing up to the prospect of a relegation dogfight. But they went on to finish a credible 11th and they cemented their European credentials on Friday night.
Newcastle arrived on the south coast unbeaten on the road this season and boosted by a win over Everton last weekend - their best start to a season since 2012/13 - but they failed to compete during a disappointing opening half.
Southampton entered this contest as the Premier League's in-form team across the past five games, and while Hasenhuttl insisted he would not get carried away by the start his side have made this term, they showed an ability to adapt in the absence of their talisman Danny Ings.
- Hasenhuttl: Saints rise scary but not surprising
- How the teams lined up | Match stats
- Premier League news | Fixtures | Table | Live on Sky
His side took an early lead, with the first real chance of the game in just the seventh minute. Darlow was forced into a diving save to deny Adams with a curled strike from the edge of the area, but Newcastle failed to clear their lines.
Southampton made two changes to their starting line-up from the 4-3 win at Aston Villa. Moussa Djenepo and Jack Stephens were brought in to replace the injured Danny Ings and Ryan Bertrand, while Theo Walcott moved up front alongside Che Adams.
Newcastle named the same starting XI from their win over Everton, but Ryan Fraser was not included in Steve Bruce's matchday squad.
Walcott won the ball back on the right before playing in Adams, who fired it past the Newcastle goalkeeper to give his side the advantage. It was a finish of quality, highlighting a man in form.
Southampton were running rings around Newcastle, helped by sloppy passing but only wasteful finishing prevented the advantage from being more handsome at the interval. Jamaal Lascelles and Jamal Lewis were casual on the ball as James Ward-Prowse pounced, drawing Moussa Djenepo's flick into the path of Walcott but the on-loan winger curled wide.
Newcastle were powderpuff in attack with a Sean Longstaff header straight at Alex McCarthy all to show for their first-half efforts, and Steve Bruce's side were fortunate not to fall further behind when Lascelles was alert to head Jan Bednarek's effort off the line before Darlow produced a superb finger-tip save to push Romeu's long-range drive onto the crossbar.
Southampton continued to pin Newcastle back as they probed for a second. Bednarek was again denied as he met James Ward-Prowse's corner at the near post only to see his header palmed away by the overworked Darlow.
- Two channels for the price of one - 146 live PL games + EFL for just £18 p/m
- Get a NOW TV Sky Sports pass | Sign up for PL goal alerts
It was one-way traffic as much in the second half as it was in the first with Lascelles fortunate not to give away a penalty for a challenge on Walcott that was cleared upon VAR review by Christopher Kavanagh.
Sky Sports co-commentator Alan Smith said: "It doesn't matter that he touches the ball. That is a clear foul. I'm perplexed. They know more about it than me at Stockley Park."
The incident would prove merely a side note, however, as Southampton deservedly doubled their lead in the final 10 minutes. Armstrong accepted the ball off the dallying Sean Longstaff on the edge of his own box, cut onto his left boot and reversed his shot beyond Darlow.
Southampton were in control, but Newcastle were denied the chance of staging a nervy finale when McCarthy was awoken by a fine Joelinton header from Lewis' cross, springing to his left to preserve his clean sheet.
How long since your club topped the top division?
What the managers said
Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl: "It's amazing what my team does in the moment. Congratulations to everybody around the pitch and the team. Amazing. We could maybe have scored more but the rest was perfect. Everybody was on the highest level. It is a little scary what we are doing at the moment to be honest but not surprising when I see what we are working on.
"Earlier, we could have closed the game. That was definitely possible. The way we played through lines was fantastic to watch. We can then make the last pass and final decision even better but this is criticism on a high level. We know it's not so easy to create a lot of chances against these teams.
"I just told the guys in the dressing room that we invested so much in this time together. We made so many big steps forward. We are now a strong side. That is not a coincidence. It helped us that we had situations where there were no crowds as we developed our game without as much stress. It was the complete game I think."
Newcastle boss Steve Bruce: "It was a difficult evening for us against a very good Southampton team but we didn't do enough. We weren't aggressive enough and we found it very difficult. The goals we gave away probably summed up our evening. We gave it away far too cheaply and far too often.
"To do it you have to be good with the ball and make sure you look after it better than we did. That's why the players play at this level because they are expected to.
"From six minutes in we gifted them the first goal then it was a difficult night all round. We were nowhere near where we were five days ago. That's my biggest issue - that we go up and down. It was a poor, poor performance."
Player reaction: 'Saints home PL debut an honour'
In what was his 350th Premier League appearance, Theo Walcott made his home Premier League debut for Southampton, 14 years and 314 days after his last league match for the club at St. Mary's in December 2005 in the Championship. Walcott told Sky Sports:
"You can see on my face that I'm smiling, you know. It's a fantastic team at this moment in time.
"It's an absolute honour to be honest. Sadly there's no fans here today but we showed that we work hard for each other and there's so much trust. The work is showing.
"We have been doing it from day one. It's the team we are. We hunt in packs and we work together. We like to counter-press and we did well. He [Che Adams] took the goal very well. I always worry when it's 1-0 though. We dominated the game but it shows the character we have got in the team.
"We have some leaders in that dressing room as well. I will be contributing a lot on the assists front. As long as the team keeps on winning, I'm sure I'll get my goal soon. It's nice to get the three points for the team."
Analysis: Southampton like a pack of hyenas
Sky Sports' Jamie Redknapp:
"Miguel Almiron should do better to clear the ball [for the first goal], but Southampton are like a pack of hyenas to win it back, and it was a lovely finish from Adams.
"Danny Ings is so important to this side, and you can't underestimate how much they're going to miss him, but it felt like every one of their players was a nine out of 10. They were just too hot to handle. The way they started the season, you just didn't know quite how they were going to react to losing Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.
"But they were perfect, playing out from the back, playing the game the right way, and when you talk about an infectious press, that's what you've got as everyone is buying into it."
Man of the match - Stuart Armstrong
Redknapp was right - there were several candidates for the stand-out performer, but Armstrong capped a fine display with only a third Premier League goal on home soil for Southampton, and his first in the competition at St. Mary's since February against Aston Villa.
It was the Scot's 50th career league strike, and he was denied a second on the night in stoppage time by another good save from Darlow. He was always involved.
"He played a very clever role, playing narrow all night to get himself into positions to score," Alan Pardew told Sky Sports. "He showed clever feet for his goal, which topped a very good performance. It was a joy to watch him tonight. He had the freedom of the park but you've still got to capitalise on that, which he did."
Now TV now just £25 a month
Save over 25% and grab a NOW TV Sky Sports Month Pass for just £25 a month for 3 months. Cancel anytime
Saints march to summit - Opta stats
- Southampton's 2-0 win over Newcastle has taken them top of the Premier League table; it's the first time they have topped the top-flight table at the end of a day since September 16th, 1988 under Chris Nicholl.
- Newcastle have conceded a goal in seven consecutive league games; it's their longest run without a Premier League clean sheet since December 2017 (11 in a row).
- Southampton have won three consecutive Premier League matches for the first time since winning four in a row in May 2016 under Ronald Koeman.
- Southampton have picked up 16 points in their eight Premier League games this season (W5 D1 L2); they have never had more at this stage of a campaign in the competition (level with 2014-15).
Southampton travel to face Wolves on Saturday, November 21 after the international break; kick-off 3pm.
Newcastle will host Chelsea at St James' Park at 12.30pm on the same day.