By Anthony Marshall - Newcastle United Club Reporter
At St. Mary's Stadium
Southampton 2 (Lallana 35, Ramirez 60)
Newcastle United 0
Newcastle United suffered their third successive Premier League defeat as they went down 2-0 away at Southampton on Sunday afternoon.
A goal in either half from Adam Lallana and Gaston Ramirez gave the Saints all three points at St. Mary's Stadium, and it was a victory they fully deserved, having dominated for large periods.
After a spell of heavy pressure, Lallana slotted home from close range ten minutes before half-time, and then Ramirez poked in a second to give the hosts a comfortable advantage.
Were it not for Magpies goalkeeper Tim Krul, the margin could have been even more emphatic, but the big Dutchman was the standout performer, denying Lallana, Puncheon and Steven Davis as Southampton pushed for more goals.
The visitors made a bright start to proceedings and fashioned their first chance inside the opening five minutes.
With Southampton unable to clear their lines properly, Shane Ferguson picked up a loose ball on the edge of the area and chipped a cross onto the head of Ba, only for the eight-goal front man to nod narrowly wide under pressure.
But the hosts responded and captain Lallana almost diverted Nathaniel Clyne's mishit shot past Tim Krul but it ended up the wrong side of the upright.
Krul had to be alert to deal with a low Jason Puncheon strike from a tight angle on 12 minutes, after the wide man saw his first effort blocked, and soon after the Dutch stopper had to fly full-stretch to his left to parry away Lallana's 25-yard free-kick.
Southampton's pressure was growing and just past the half hour mark Krul highlighted just why he is one of the best goalkeepers in Europe as he kept out a close-range Puncheon strike.
However, he was beaten - and motionless - just seconds later when Lambert's free-kick curled around the wall and seemingly towards the top corner, only to thankfully crash off the woodwork and away to safety.
The Saints' pressure finally told as they broke the deadlock in the 35th minute. Krul came rushing out of his area to deal with a long ball over the top, which was promptly pumped straight back into the box by Clyne.
Mike Williamson tried to head clear, only diverting into the path of Ramirez, who teed up Lallana for a side-foot finish from five yards.
First, Ba headed Vurnon Anita's corner into the arms of Gazzaniga, before Anita raced in behind the Saints' defence, only to see the keeper equal to his low strike.
Southampton almost mate them pay in the 56th minute when a rapid counter-attack saw Puncheon feed Lallana around six yards out, but the skipper was denied his second of the afternoon by another excellent Krul save.
But on the hour mark the hosts did double their advantage. Lallana and Puncheon combined down the left, and when Krul was unable to hold on to the latter's low ball across the face of goal, Ramirez was on hand to stab home.
Pardew responded with another substitution of offensive-intent as midweek goalscorer Sylvain Marveaux entered the fray in place of Anita, and immediately Cheick Tiote almost conjured up a rare goal when he dribbled through the hosts' midfield before chipping over the top.
Southampton weren't content with their lead, however, and it should have been 3-0 when the excellent Puncheon was found in a couple of yards of space inside the box and fired past Krul but against the base of the post.
Newcastle went straight up the other end and their best spell of pressure saw Ba have an effort blocked on the edge of the box, before Gazzaniga made an outstanding stop to keep out Santon's powerful header which was on its way in.
With time running out, Krul had to dive at the feet of substitute Steven Davis to thwart the former Rangers man while, from the resulting corner, Jose Fonte looped a header against the crossbar.
Jay Rodriguez had the ball in the back of United's net in the 89th minutes, but a linesman's flag ruled it out for offside and Southampton had to settle for just the two-goal margin.
Southampton (4-2-3-1): Paulo Gazzaniga; Nathaniel Clyne, Jose Fonte, Maya Yoshida, Luke Shaw (Jos Hooiveld 90); Morgan Schneiderlin, Jack Cork; Jason Puncheon, Gaston Ramírez (Steven Davis 78), Adam Lallana (c); Rickie Lambert (Jay Rodriguez 76)
Subs not used: Kelvin Davis, James Ward-Prowse, Emmanuel Mayuka, Guly Do Prado
Newcastle United (4-4-2): Tim Krul; Danny Simpson, Mike Williamson, Steven Taylor (James Perch 90), Davide Santon; Jonas Gutierrez (c), Vurnon Anita (Sylvain Marveaux 66), Cheick Tiote, Shane Ferguson (Sammy Ameobi 46); Demba Ba, Papiss Cisse
Referee: Martin Atkinson (Yorkshire)
Bookings: Southampton - Fonte (23); Newcastle - Williamson (43), Tiote (86)
Attendance: 31,410 (2,019 Newcastle)