Southampton vs Newcastle match report: Toon take a further step to relegation after poor defeat

Southampton 3 Newcastle United 1

Nick Szczepanik
St Mary's
Saturday 09 April 2016 17:09
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Graziano Pelle celebrates with his Southampton team-mates after scoring against Newcastle 
Graziano Pelle celebrates with his Southampton team-mates after scoring against Newcastle 

Chances for Newcastle United to save themselves from relegation are running out fast. The gap between Rafa Benitez' men and 17th-placed Norwich City remains six points, but if they defend as they did here, they could have 20 games left rather than half a dozen and it would make no difference.

Their injury-hit rearguard caved in after only three minutes and after that a ninth successive away defeat was more or less inevitable. Benitez has seen his players take only one point since he took over four games ago, their sole point from the past 21 on offer.

“Really disappointed, really upset,” he said. “I couldn't believe how we started the first half. The whole game plan had to change. I didn't see too many positives today. We have four games at home but I'm already thinking about changing things for the next away game.”

Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez 

Southampton will have few more compliant opponents as they chase a Europa League berth. “If a team is fighting relegation, they are not full of confidence,” Saints manager Ronald Koeman said. “That is why we played very offensively from the start, to cause them problems.”

Newcastle had lost 4-0 on their two previous visits to St Mary's, and must have feared a repeat when Shane Long rounded Jonjo Shelvey, strolled past Vernon Anita, the notional left back, ambled inside Steven Taylor and rolled the ball past Karl Darlow, all without any semblance of a challenge from a Newcastle player – shocking defending even by their abysmal standards.

The travelling fans still sang Benitez' name, but that was before Taylor sold Darlow short with a dreadful backpass that forced the goalkeeper into a win-the-ball-or-see-red challenge on Graziano Pelle that he just managed to pull off. Newcastle's only hope was Southampton's failure to show a killer instinct. Long got away from the defence onto Pelle's flick but chose the wrong option at the end of his run and both Pelle and Virgil Van Dijk headed over when unchallenged.

But eventually, seven minutes before the interval, Newcastle shot themselves in the foot again. Daryl Janmaat completely misread a pass from Sadio Mane, allowing Dusan Tadic to run through and Long's heavy first touch turned into a perfect pass for Pelle to lash past Darlow from 15 yards. Now the chants from the away end were 'We're going down' and 'We're fucking shit.'

Janmaat had injured himself attempting to regain his ground after being beaten and left the field, probably relieved to be spared further punishment. Ditto Taylor, withdrawn at half-time, but it made no difference. A short corner found Newcastle dozing, Mane skipped past substitute Jamaal Lascelles and although Darlow blocked Jose Fonte's first effort, Victor Wanyama's follow-up found the corner of the net, his first goal for 17 months.

Andros Townsend briefly revived memories of his days as part of a bright England future when he ran from right to left before curling the ball past Fraser Forster from 25 yards. Too little, too late – for his England career and Newcastle's chances.

Southampton (4-3-3): Forster; Martina, Fonte, Van Dijk, Bertrand; Clasie (Romeu 71), Wanyama, Tadic (Rodriguez 83); Mane, Pelle, Long (Ward-Prowse 60).

Newcastle United (4-1-4-1): Darlow; Janmaat (De Jong 41), Taylor (Lascelles ht), Mbemba, Anita; Shelvey; Townsend, Sissoko, Perez (Cisse 70), Wijnaldum; Mitrovic.

Referee: R Madley.

Man of the match: Mane (Southampton)

Match rating: 7/10

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