Newcastle United 3-2 Southampton: Nine-man Magpies hang on against frustrated Saints
(Photo by Jason Cairnduff - Pool/Getty Images)

What is it with Southampton and their affiliation with the number nine as of recent?

In midweek, they were thumped 9-0 for the second time in two seasons.

Then this afternoon, they were beaten by a nine-man Newcastle United side who survived a second half onslaught to go further clear of the Premier League's relegation places.

The Magpies found themselves two goals in front early in the first half courtesy of a debut strike from Joe Willock and a Miguel Almiron goal.

The Saints kept Newcastle honest when Takumi Minamino scored on his debut to make it 2-1, but Almiron bagged his brace and restored The Toon's two goal advantage just before the interval.

However, a frantic first five minutes to the second half saw the game almost turn on its head when Jeff Hendrick was sent off for a second bookable offence - almost immediately after James Ward-Prowse scored one of his trademark free-kicks.

An injury to Fabian Schar, which required the stretcher, meant that Steve Bruce's side had to play the final 30 minutes with just nine players.

But, Newcastle dug deep and showed their resilience in dreadful conditions as they hung on to seal a vital three points in a full-blooded, entertaining game of football at St James' Park.

Story of the game

The first real opportunity of the match fell to the hosts as Allan Saint-Maximin drove at the Southampton defence before passing to Javier Manquillo, who picked out Callum Wilson, but the England forward could not get a clean strike on target.

Just two minutes later, Wilson took advantage of the high Saints line and found himself through on goal before slotting past Alex McCarthy. But unfortunately for him, the offside flag was raised.

Newcastle's attacking perseverance payed off on 16 minutes as Arsenal loanee Joe Willock gave his new side the lead after slamming the ball home from close range - a goal that all came from a mazy, intelligent run from Saint-Maximin - something Toon supporters are all but used to by now.

Southampton almost had an equaliser if it was not for Karl Darlow making a big save to deny Danny Ings after some clever link-up play from himself and his strike partner Che Adams.

Despite the visitors looking like they were growing into the game, Newcastle doubled their lead when Miguel Almiron's low-driven shot was deflected in by Saints defender Jan Bednarek - whose week was going from bad to worse.

However just four minutes later, Liverpool loanee Takumi Minamino pulled a goal back for Southampton, after his shot beautifully caressed itself into the roof of the net - a strike that left Karl Darlow helpless in the Newcastle goal.

Top scorer Callum Wilson joined Manquillo in the early substitutes club after it looked like he tweaked his hamstring. Joelinton, equipped with his fresh lockdown haircut, was introduced in place of the England international.

Just as it looked Southampton were going to find a leveller before the interval, Newcastle took advantage of some lackadaisical passing from goalkeeper McCarthy that was fully took advantage of by Almiron, who grabbed his second of the game to restore The Magpies two-goal lead right on the half time whistle.

A second half that did not let up in terms of action

Newcastle had a golden chance straight after the restart to make it 4-1 when Willock played in Jonjo Shelvey, who had time and space from six-yards out to place the ball past McCarthy, but he dragged his effort well wide of the post.

In the next phase of play, just after that glaring chance was missed by Shelvey, Southampton punished Newcastle brutally through a simply stunning James Ward Prowse free-kick that etched itself into the top left-hand corner.

Then a minute later, in a game you did not want to take your eyes off, Jeff Hendrick was dismissed for a second yellow card that put his teammates in real danger of letting their lead slip away.

Southampton, now a man up, continued to be the aggressor and were denied by a point-blank save from Darlow to stop Jannik Vestergaard's towering head nestling into the back of the net.

Smart play around the 18-yard box seen Ings played in with room to shoot by Nathan Redmond, but he cannoned the post with his effort and the rebound fell directly back into the hands of Darlow.

The Saints second half domination continued, and they thought they had their equaliser when Adams managed to bundle the ball into the back on the net. But just like Wilson in the first half, he was denied by the offside flag.

Newcastle, after going down to 10-men after Hendrick's dismissal, soon found themselves down to nine when Fabian Schar had to be stretchered off the field after a 50/50 challenge following a post-free-kick scramble.

The final ten minutes saw Southampton camped in the Newcastle half. They had chance after chance, but they could not break the heroic Newcastle backline for the third time in the game.

It meant that Newcastle hung on for a vital three points, which moved them 11 points clear of the relegation spots, with some breathing space over 18th placed Fulham.

Takeaways

Newcastle made it difficult for themselves, but they somehow got the job done

One thing that Newcastle United are experts at is raising the heart rates of their supporters - and today's game was certainly no exception to that.

The players quashed any rumours that head coach Steve Bruce had lost the dressing room with a determined, passion-filled second half performance.

The final nine in black and white stood proud in the last 40 minutes of the game - a 40 minutes which will have felt like an eternity to the players - to grab a deserved three points.

There is no doubt that if Newcastle continue to play like they have in their last four games in particular, they will avoid relegation to the Championship at a canter.

Sloppy Southampton urgently need their injured stars back

Southampton's inability to break down a nine-man, shot of confidence Newcastle side means that manager Ralph Hasenhuttl can have no complaints about the final result.

Defensively they were poor, especially in the first half, and it emphasised how important Kyle Walker-Peters is to their team - a man who remains sidelined with an injury.

A sloppy first half cost them of any points this afternoon - and if they do continue on this downward trajectory - they might just have to start looking over their shoulder at the likes of Newcastle, something that is incredible to think after their blitzing start to the season.

Starting XI's

Newcastle United: Darlow; Manquillo, Hayden, Schar, Lewis; Hendrick, Willock, Shelvey; Almiron, Saint-Maximin; Wilson. (4-3-2-1)

Southampton: McCarthy; Vestergaard, Bednarek, Stephens, Bertrand; Redmond, Ward-Prowse, Romeu, Minamino; Adams, Ings. (4-4-2)

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