Southampton 1 – 4 Newcastle United
Miguel Almiron continued his scoring streak as Newcastle consolidated their spot in the Premier League’s top four with another confident victory.
Paraguay forward put the visitors ahead at half-time following a strong run and composed finish for his seventh goal in seven games.
Southampton, who are struggling for goals, wasted chances before Newcastle substitute Chris Wood swivelled sharply and fired into the corner.
The hosts were further punished when Joe Willock added the third, finishing a quick counterattack led by Kieran Trippier with an accurate finish.
From that point, Newcastle looked certain to extend their unbeaten run to nine matches.
Southampton did pull a consolation back through Romain Perraud’s fine solo strike, only for Bruno Guimaraes to restore the three-goal advantage with a superb curler.
The Saints have only won one of their past eight matches and will finish the weekend third from the bottom.
What a way for Newcastle to celebrate Eddie Howe’s first anniversary in charge.
On Tuesday, it will be 12 months since former Bournemouth boss Howe took over and the mood during this win – on the pitch and in the away stand – was another timely show of the positivity flowing through the club.
The transformation under Howe’s leadership has been remarkable.
He took over with Newcastle 19th in the top flight, five points from safety after 11 games last season.
Now they are mounting a challenge for Champions League football next season, while Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola even ranks them among the title challengers.
Nobody has epitomised Newcastle’s improvement under Howe more than Almiron.
The Paraguay international has been one of the star performers in recent weeks, driving the team forward with intelligent runs and scoring a hatful of eye-catching goals.
The opener at Southampton was another illustration of his thriving confidence.
Picking the ball inside the home half, he burst forward with purpose and showed determination to hold off a challenge from Ainsley Maitland-Niles before finding the bottom corner with Newcastle’s first shot on target.
That set the platform for the visitors – who had to withstand periods of pressure – to go on and earn what was eventually a comfortable win.
Howe was not entirely happy with his side’s overall performance, saying it was not at the “same heights” as previous weeks.
After an emphatic win that moved them third, it shows how high expectations have quickly risen under Newcastle’s new regime.
Same old problems for wasteful Southampton
Southampton started the day in the relegation zone and remain there after a display which summed up their current woes.
Scoring goals has been the problem for Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side, having netted only 12 times in 14 league games, and they failed to heed the Austrian’s warning they needed to be more clinical.
The Saints had their chances against the meanest defence in the league, but they were unable to take them and it proved costly.
Their best chance saw Mohamed Elyounoussi miss a chance to equalise before half-time with an opportunity he would have expected to convert.
The slick interplay on the right allowed Stuart Armstrong to deliver a low cross behind the Newcastle defence, Elyounoussi showing the anticipation to reach the ball first but not the composure to finish.
Southampton showed further improvement after the break but again wasted more presentable chances.
Che Adams dragged a volley wide and seconds later Southampton was punished when Wood converted Newcastle’s second.
By the time Perraud did make a breakthrough it was far too late and Hasenhuttl, who looked exasperated on the touchline, was again left ruing his side’s profligacy.
“We had a tough game, they had seven shots on goal, four on target and they scored four goals,” said Hasenhuttl, who added he was not concerned about his future at St Mary’s.
“We had 16, five on target and scored one.
“They have shown why they are where they are. They were clinical in the right moments.”
source – BBC Sport