Memorable Match - Newcastle United 2-1 Southampton: Fernandez's late winner makes St James' Park erupt
Photo credit: (Getty Images/Nigel Roddis)

Newcastle United made it seven games unbeaten on home turf with this 2-1 victory at St James' Park, courtesy of goals from Jonjo Shelvey and Federico Fernandez in December 2019.

After a relatively uneventful first half, it was actually Southampton who took the lead early in the second 45 minutes when Danny Ings broke free of The Magpies' defence and finished beyond Martin Dubravka.

United midfielder Shelvey brought the home side level with a close-range header before Fernandez sent St James' Park into raptures when he fired home after Alex McCarthy had parried an initial effort following a corner late on.

Steve Bruce's side went on to finish in 13th position, matching that of the previous season under Rafa Benitez.

Fantastic Fernandez

United may not have been the most prolific side during the 2019/20 season, but something that was interesting was the number of defenders who had got themselves on the scoresheet.

Ciaran Clark, Jamaal Lascelles and Fabian Schär had already scored some crucial goals for The Magpies and Fernandez scored his second goal for the club in this late victory, adding to his only previous strike in the 3-2 away win at West Ham United the previous month.

The former Argentine international was brought in by Rafa Benitez to defend, and he was someone that he had gained trust in during the duos time together at Napoli.

The centre-back may not have scored for Benitez at Newcastle, but this particular goal for Steve Bruce's side was crucial as The Magpies went on to claim three points against a fellow mid-table side. 

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Shelvey gets Newcastle ticking again

The key for Newcastle in this match was that they didn't leave it too long to get themselves level after falling behind just seven minutes into the second half.

It did take 16 minutes for them to equalise but Shelvey was on hand to do so.

The midfielder was in something of a purple patch, and this was his third strike in just as many games adding to those scored in the 2-2 draw with Manchester City in Newcastle's previous home game, and United's second in the midweek win at Sheffield United in the build-up to the Southampton clash.

A lot will be said about just how vital Fernandez's winner was, but Shelvey's role in this encounter was just as crucial as it was his header that increased The Magpies' chances of taking all three points against a Saints side who had turned their fortunes around following the 9-0 drubbing at the hands of Leicester City less then two months earlier. 

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Fortress St James' Park

Steve Bruce may not be every Newcastle United fan's cup of tea. It was always going to be hard for him to win the fans over following the departure of a manager who was once winning Champions League trophies in Rafa Benitez, when Bruce can only really boast about winning the Championship play-offs as a manager.

One thing he did do in his first season on Tyneside though was turn St James' Park into something of a fortress, or at least in the first half of the season.

After losing on the opening day to Arsenal, Newcastle went unbeaten at home until the very end of the year when Carlo Ancelotti's Everton won 2-1. That run saw ​​​​​​​the Magpies go eight games without defeat on home turf.

Crowds may have been significantly lower during this time on the back of a so-called 'boycott' in protest against Mike Ashley's reluctance to support Benitez, but the lower crowds didn't seem to affect the Newcastle players who went on an impressive run of form at home.

What will be disappointing for Bruce and his players is that this type of home form hasn't continued, albeit with behind closed doors fixtures last season due to the pandemic. Newcastle's first home league outing in front of a full house of the 2021/22 season against West Ham turned out to be something of an anti-climax as they went down 4-2 on the opening day of this campaign.