Miguel Almiron stole the show on a tense afternoon for Newcastle United, as they bounced back from their defeat against Crystal Palace with a 3-2 win over a dangerous Southampton side.
The last time these two sides met was back in November, where Southampton comfortably won 2-0 at St Mary’s Stadium. The result back then lifted Southampton up to 1st place in the Premier League table, but now they have found themselves on the losing end of four consecutive league games heading into this clash, including most recently losing 9-0 away to Manchester United: the joint biggest margin of defeat in Premier League history.
Allan Saint-Maximin finally made his long awaited return to the Newcastle starting XI, meanwhile Ryan Fraser made way for newly signed Joe Willock, with the youngster on loan from Arsenal for the rest of the season. Southampton meanwhile handed Takumi Minamino his debut, and with Jannik Vestegaard and Jan Bednarek back together at centre back for the visitors.
The pair of Saint-Maximin and Willock combined for Newcastle’s opener, with the Frenchman blitzing Jack Stephens for pace, before finding Willock lurking on the edge of the Southampton box. The 21 year old then slotted it into virtually an open net to give Newcastle a surprise lead.
The hosts then doubled their lead with Miguel Almiron making his mark on the game. The Paraguayan, Newcastle’s most consistently good player in 2021 so far, received the ball off Saint Maximin before taking a shot at Alex McCarthy in the Southampton net. Unfortunately for McCarthy, the ball took a terrible deflection off Bednarek in front of the keeper, with both players helpless and watching the ball trickle into the back of the net.
With one loanee having already made a good impression on his debut in this game, up stepped Minamino as he made it 2-1 and bring Southampton right back into the fixture. A frankly superb goal, the Japanese winger was given too much space on the left flank, before cutting inside and firing past Karl Darlow.
Injuries began to pile up for Newcastle in the first half, as Bruce was forced to use two of his three substitutions within minutes of each other. First was Javier Manquillo hobbling off after trying to block a Southampton shot, and being replaced by Emil Krafth. Perhaps more worrying was the forced substitution of Callum Wilson, as Newcastle’s top goal scorer also came off with an injury, with Joelinton taking Wilson’s place for the rest of the game.
Things brightened up for Newcastle in added time of the first half however, as a terrible mistake from McCarthy and the Southampton defence allowed Almiron the opportunity to slot it home and make it 3-1 to the Magpies. Having only scored 2 league goals at home in all of January, Newcastle now had 3 in just one half of football. The new attacking approach looked to be working better and better with each and every week.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing for the Magpies however. As the second half kicked off, Southampton pushed for a point and Newcastle were left reeling after every single Saints’ attack. Jonjo Shelvey should have made it 4-1 early on, and Newcastle must have rued the opportunity to put the game to bed.
A second yellow card for Jeff Hendrick certainly didn’t help Newcastle either as Southampton dominated the rest of the game. The ever reliable James Ward-Prowse made it 3-2 with a stunning free kick: the set piece specialist has now recorded 4 free kick goals in the League this season, with no other player scoring more than 1.
For the next half hour Newcastle were bombarded by Southampton from all angles. Che Adams had the ball in the back of the net, only for it to be chalked off for offside. Danny Ings, who should have found himself back on the scoresheet, was denied by the woodwork, and the threat of Vestegaard and Bednarek meeting the end of one of Ward Prowse’s crosses produced one of the most fierce Newcastle defences seen this season.
Despite being down to 9 men for the rest of the game after Fabian Schar went down after a failed free kick attempt, the Magpies held on until the very end of the 6 minute stoppage time for their 2nd win of the calendar year, and a vital 3 points in the fight for survival.
Wilson, Manquillo, and Schar are expected to be miss game time for at least the next few weeks following the injuries they picked up on Saturday afternoon. But a much needed 3 points and a hard fought victory will surely boost the morale of the squad enough to try and snatch a point against Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea next weekend.