Newcastle held on to beat Southampton despite playing the last 18 minutes with nine men, as Miguel Almiron scored twice for the hosts at a rain-soaked St James’ Park.
The Magpies remain in 16th but the result may ease some of the pressure on manager Steve Bruce, whose side are now 11 points clear of the bottom three.
However, it was a dismal conclusion to the week for Southampton, who were unable to bounce back from their 9-0 defeat at Manchester United despite Jeff Hendrick’s dismissal early in the second half and an injury to Fabian Schar – when the hosts had already made their three substitutions.
“We played half an hour with 10 [men], 20 minutes with nine, we know how difficult that is – Southampton shipped in goal after goal the other night,” Bruce said.
“They were terrific in their defending with their attitude and their application to get a result was pretty evident.
“I’m never going to say we’ve turned a corner but I’ve been pleased over the last month. There have been been signs of improvement. The players are buying into it, so let’s hope we can get a few more results along the way.”
On-loan Arsenal midfielder Joe Willock gave the hosts a perfect start, steering in Allan Saint-Maximin’s cutback to open the scoring on his debut, before Almiron doubled their lead with a shot that deflected off Saints defender Jan Bednarek.
The Paraguay winger then restored Newcastle’s two-goal advantage after Takumi Minamino lashed in a brilliant debut goal for Southampton.
James Ward-Prowse’s wonderful free-kick had given the visitors hope of rescuing a point even before Hendrick was sent off for two bookings, but a resilient Newcastle clung on.
Southampton have now lost five consecutive top-flight games for the first time since September 1998.
Newcastle turning a corner?
After a winless run of 11 matches in all competitions, Newcastle appear to be showing signs of a recovery, taking six points from the last nine available.
Manager Bruce will be quietly satisfied by the way in which his side eked out this success.
Having used midfielder Isaac Hayden to solve a central defensive crisis, Bruce disbelievingly saw both right-back Javier Manquillo and top scorer Callum Wilson depart with injuries before half-time.
Until then his tactics had worked wonderfully well, as the hosts looked to capitalise down their left where Southampton central defender Jack Stephens started in an unfamiliar right-back role.
Almiron, who covered more ground than any other Newcastle player (11.29km), and Willock were key to that plan, roaring forward in support of Wilson and Saint-Maximin at every opportunity.
Had Jonjo Shelvey not missed a great chance from Willock’s pass a minute after the break, they may have enjoyed a more comfortable afternoon.
Instead, it became a rearguard action once Hendrick’s tug on Minamino’s shirt brought a second yellow card for fouls on the Japan international.
With Southampton laying siege to the home goal, keeper Karl Darlow brilliantly blocked Jannik Vestergaard’s close-range header to confirm the three points.
After Tuesday’s bruising defeat, Southampton’s trip to the north-east of England was always going to be a test of character.
However, they made the worst possible start and, at times, Bednarek – who had his red card at Old Trafford rescinded – must have wished his suspension had stood.
The Poland defender had already been turned inside out once by Saint-Maximin before the French winger accelerated past him to lay on the opener for Willock.
For the second, Bednarek’s positioning in front of Alex McCarthy left the goalkeeper with no chance to react when Almiron’s effort diverted off him and McCarthy was then at fault for the third with a careless pass.
Southampton, who had a Che Adams tap-in correctly ruled out for offside, did show flashes of brilliance.
Both Minamino’s goal – he ghosted past Hayden before producing a memorable finish – and Ward-Prowse’s exquisite free-kick, which found the top left corner, were fit to grace any game.
Although his team controlled possession, manager Ralph Hasenhuttl’s expression at the final whistle was almost as gloomy as the conditions.
“The story is easy to tell. A horrible start again, conceding goals far too easy and it is always tough to fight back,” said the Austrian.
“We had chances in the second half but not enough to deserve to win. It is good some players are coming back and we must quickly find the reset button.
“We are in a tough situation at the moment, but we have to find a way out as quickly as possible.”
Newcastle’s first-half goal glut
- Newcastle have won two of their past three Premier League games (L1), as many as they had in their previous 13 in the competition (W2 D2 L9).
- This was the first time Newcastle had scored at least three goals in the first half of a Premier League game since October 2015 v Norwich. The Magpies netted their three goals from just four shots on target.
- Southampton’s James Ward-Prowse has scored four direct free-kick goals in the Premier League this season – only David Beckham (five in 2000-01) and Laurent Robert (five in 2001-02) have ever scored more in a single campaign in the competition.
- Ward-Prowse became the ninth player to reach double figures for direct free-kick goals in Premier League history. 37% of his Premier League goals have been from direct free-kicks (10/27) – only Seb Larsson has scored a higher ratio among players with 25+ goals in the competition (42% – 11/26).
- Newcastle’s Miguel Almiron has scored four goals in his past 12 Premier League games, as many as he had in his previous 55 in the competition.
- Joe Willock became the 11th different player to score on their Premier League debut for Newcastle, and the third to do so this season after Jeff Hendrick and Callum Wilson. His opener was his second Premier League goal, with his other strike also coming against Southampton in a 2-0 victory for Arsenal last season.
- Takumi Minamino became the first player to score on his Premier League debut for Southampton since Jan Bednarek in April 2018. He netted just 30 minutes into his Saints debut, after scoring just one goal in 531 minutes of league action for Liverpool.
Newcastle travel to Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea in their next Premier League match on Monday, 15 February (20:00 GMT).
Southampton travel to Molineux to play Wolves in the fifth round of the FA Cup on Thursday (17:30 GMT) before welcoming the same opponents to St Mary’s in the Premier League on Sunday, 14 February (12:00 GMT).
- 26DarlowBooked at 90mins
- 19ManquilloSubstituted forKrafthat 24′minutesBooked at 45mins
- 5SchärSubstituted forat 79′minutes
- 16HendrickBooked at 50mins
- 10Saint-MaximinSubstituted forDummettat 67′minutes
- 13WilsonSubstituted forJoelintonat 36′minutes
- 5StephensSubstituted forN’Lunduluat 81′minutes
- 35BednarekBooked at 73mins
- Craig Pawson
Match ends, Newcastle United 3, Southampton 2.
Second Half ends, Newcastle United 3, Southampton 2.
Karl Darlow (Newcastle United) is shown the yellow card.
Foul by Nathan Redmond (Southampton).
Miguel Almirón (Newcastle United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt missed. Jannik Vestergaard (Southampton) left footed shot from the centre of the box is too high following a corner.
Corner, Southampton. Conceded by Joseph Willock.
Corner, Southampton. Conceded by Jamal Lewis.
Foul by Jannik Vestergaard (Southampton).
Karl Darlow (Newcastle United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Corner, Southampton. Conceded by Paul Dummett.
Corner, Southampton. Conceded by Paul Dummett.
Attempt missed. Che Adams (Southampton) right footed shot from outside the box is too high.
Substitution, Southampton. Daniel N’Lundulu replaces Jack Stephens.
Attempt missed. Jan Bednarek (Southampton) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by James Ward-Prowse with a cross following a corner.
Corner, Southampton. Conceded by Emil Krafth.
Offside, Southampton. Ryan Bertrand tries a through ball, but Takumi Minamino is caught offside.
Fabian Schär went off injured after Newcastle United had used all subs.
Attempt blocked. Fabian Schär (Newcastle United) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
VAR Decision: No card change Jan Bednarek (Southampton).