By Dan King - Newcastle United Club Reporter
Sunday was designated as French day at St. James' Park, with Gallic music, flags and fans encouraged to dress up in berets and red, white and blue costumes.
And right-back Mathieu Debuchy admitted that it helped to inspire Newcastle's French stars as they all played key roles in United's 4-2 win over Southampton.
Moussa Sissoko and Yohan Cabaye both scored and Yoan Gouffran and Debuchy claimed an assist each, while Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa put in a fine performance in defence after replacing injured captain Fabricio Coloccini shortly before half-time.
So the combined efforts of the Club and fans - which included a pre-match rendition of Blaydon Races with a French twist and can-can girls - certainly had the desired affect.
"It was good for us," Debuchy beamed as he spoke exclusively to nufc.co.uk. "It was a good initiative taken by the Club to do that and we came away with a victory at the end of the day, which was fantastic.
"To be honest, we didn't just need that - we just needed the thought of moving up the league to get the motivation - but it was a nice thing.
"It is something which has really touched me, the warm welcome I've received from everyone - the team, the staff and all of the people involved here at Newcastle.
"I've been very warmly welcomed from day one, and of course from the fans with a fantastic atmosphere in the stadium for all the French players."
A perfect illustration of the quality of United's French connection came for the first-half equaliser, which began with a glorious Cabaye pass and saw Sissoko convert after Gouffran had twisted and turned into the box and driven the ball dangerously across goal.
Debuchy explained: "It was a 100 per cent French-made goal, but it was well played by the whole team and it was important for us to get back into the match.
"It wasn't the best start, to concede at the beginning of the game, but we managed to get back into it very quickly.
"We had a great game and everyone played together. We were united and we went and won the game.
"It was a very important win today. Obviously Southampton were right there next to us so it was important to get ahead of them.
"And of course it takes us above Sunderland too. I was told about the rivalry and I know how important it was. It was a good thing for us to get the job done but also to move up the league today."
Sissoko's goal and a screamer from Papiss Cisse - "definitely up there as goal of the season," according to Debuchy - put United in front after going behind to Morgan Schneiderlin's third minute goal, but Rickie Lambert levelled for Southampton on 50 minutes.
However, Debuchy's cross was then handled by Danny Fox to give Newcastle a pressure penalty which Cabaye stepped up to take.
Debuchy saw his good friend score plenty of spot-kicks during their time together at Lille and had no doubt that the ball would end up in the Gallowgate net.
"Absolutely not," he insisted. "I know him, I know how he takes a penalty. People can have some doubts but I was confident he was going to score."
Jos Hooiveld's unfortunate own goal wrapped up the win for the Magpies and gave Alan Pardew's side a third win in their last four Barclays Premier League games.
That's impressive form and the arrival of Debuchy last month has certainly been a factor, with his latest performance perhaps his best so far in black and white.
"It's obviously something you need to get into, but now I feel very comfortable in the team," he said.
"I feel very happy and I hope that will continue. I hope the team's and my own performances will continue and we can climb further up the Premier League."
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