Kenedy at the double as Newcastle ease their relegation fears with morale-boosting win over Southampton

Newcastle United 3 Southampton 0: Kenedy scored his first two goals for Newcastle while Matt Ritchie chipped in with the third, as Southampton lost again

Martin Hardy
St James' Park
Saturday 10 March 2018 18:10
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Kenedy scored Newcastle's first two goals
Kenedy scored Newcastle's first two goals

Tyneside breathed out, at around quarter-past four on Saturday afternoon, probably for the first time since their dramatic Championship win in the final minute of last season.

It has been a nervy return to the Premier League, but when Matt Ritchie swept in a fine third goal, just before the hour mark, the Premier League table showed a five point gap and a superior goal difference had been created to the bottom three.

There were roars of delight and relief, hugs and smiles for there has been doubt and worry, but Rafa Benitez has rarely wobbled in what he has asked a young team to do, and they delivered an emphatic victory that led to catcalls and mockery from Southampton fans for his old friend Mauricio Pellegrino.

It is his position and his football’s club position that is now in peril. This Saints team is doing no marching and the dispirited 1600 supporters who had made the long trip north headed home with a one point gap to the relegation zone.

Their future is in doubt, with just one league victory this year, and they never looked like adding to it.

Newcastle were better in every department; their organisation allowing fine displays from Florian Lejeune, Jonjo Shelvey, Mo Diame and the excellent Kenedy, who left the field with 12 minutes to go and rightly received a standing ovation.

His loan signing, along with the goalkeeper Martin Dubravka has been crucial in leading the club to 13th in the table.

Martin Dubravka had another good game

It was Newcastle’s game, right from the off. They swept into the lead with just 64 seconds on the clock and never looked back, Jonjo Shelvey, playing after a quicker than expected recovery from a knee injury, floated a curling ball and from there it was all down to Kenedy’s intelligence and persistence.

The Brazilian managed to get in front of Cedric Soares, the Southampton right back and he chested the ball beyond the defender and onto his favoured left foot, as the ball fell he struck it first time into the bottom corner of Alex McCarthy’s goal.

The relief felt tangible.

It did relax a home side for who this always felt like a huge game. A further three minutes had passed when Shelvey produced another excellent, searching through ball to Dwight Gayle, and the forward attempted to chest the ball down rather than take a first time shot and that allowed McCarthy to gather.

Kenedy gave Newcastle the lead

There was possession for Southampton, but little purpose and in the 25th minute Gayle was afforded a better chance to double the score, after the tenacity of Mo Diame had robbed Mario Lemina, but the former Crystal Palace man’s left footed shot was gathered by McCarthy.

The goal, however, was coming, and in the 29th minute Newcastle swept forward in exuberant style to score an excellent second.

That it started with a Southampton corner did little to help the bleak mood of Pellegrino. Newcastle broke with purpose through Ayoze Perez, and the Spaniard drive at the heart of the visitors untick he was around 25 yards from their goal, then he slipped the ball through to his right, where Gayle had followed the break.

The forward first-timed a right footed pass back across the face of goal and there was Kenedy to sweep in the second.

Kenedy celebrates his second goal

There could have been a third through Perez and then Kenedy, but in the 57th minute, Newcastle had won, and the club felt a lot safer.

Shelvey waited and waited and then slipped a short pass to Ritchie, who drilled a low, left footed shot into the bottom corner of McCarthy’s goal.

It was one-sided, it was emphatic and by the finish Pellegrini was facing a chant of ‘You don’t know what you’re doing from the supporters of Southampton’.

It was a stark contrast to the rest of St James’ Park, which basked in a black and white glow of relief.

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