By Anthony Marshall - Newcastle United Managing Editor
At St. James' Park
Newcastle United 1 (Gouffran 30)
Southampton 2 (Elia 14, 62)
Newcastle United suffered only their third home defeat of the season as they went down 2-1 to high-flying Southampton at St. James' Park on Saturday.
A double from Saints winger Ejero Elia, sandwiched either side of Yoan Gouffran's equaliser, gave the visitors all three points in the Barclays Premier League fixture.
Elia broke the deadlock early on and against the run of play, with a low strike from James Ward-Prowse's pass.
However, the Magpies levelled on the half-hour mark thanks to a fortunate Yoan Gouffran effort. The French forward chased what looked like a lost cause but got his rewards when Florin Gardos cleared the ball straight into his thigh, with it duly flying into the back of the net.
United had chances after the break to edge in front, with Gouffran heading just wide, and Elia was to grab what proved to be the winner in the 62nd-minute, slotting past Tim Krul with the aid of a deflection.
The result was harsh on Newcastle, who constantly threatened the meanest defence in the top flight, and it means they are still searching for a first victory of 2015.
Neither player troubled Fraser Forster but on 12 minutes the Hexham-born former Magpie had to make his first save, getting down to his right to smother Ayoze Pere'z's low snap-shot.
Seconds later Forster's palms were stung again, tihs time by a dipping 25-yard half-volley from Yoan Gouffran which was straight at the keeper. Either side of him and the hosts could have been celebrating.
As it was, Saints went straight up the other end and broke the deadlock through new arrival Elia's first goal for the club.
A long ball forward was directed into the path of James Ward-Prowse by Graziano Pelle. England Under-21 star Ward Prowse slipped in Elia just inside the box and the Dutchman made a yard of space before firing an angled effort under Tim Krul.
That knocked the stuffing out of Newcastle and visiting captain Fonte headed Ward-Prowse's free-kick onto the roof of the Gallowgate net, having risen highest at the far post.
But on the half-hour mark United were back on level terms, albeit in fortuitous fashion.
Remy Cabella's pass in behind had the Southampton defence on their heels, and when Gardos attempted to clear, he only succeeded in striking the ball against Gouffran's thigh, which diverted it into the top corner.
It was Gouffran's first goal since Boxing Day 2013, when he netted in a home victory over Stoke.
Perez had got little joy out of the Saints' defence but three minutes before half-time the Spaniard was inches away from conjuring up something special.
As the Magpies broke, Cabella lofted a diagonal pass over the top and Perez took his chance immediately, lobbing an effort inches wide of the far upright with the outside of his boot.
Seven minutes into the second period Cabella had a chance of his own but skewed high and wide from the edge of the area after Moussa Sissoko had nodded down into his path.
Just past the hour mark Gouffran glanced Massadio Haidara's cross narrowly wide of the far post, and that miss was to prove costly as seconds later Saints edged back in front.
Substitute Shane Long rose highest to flick a long ball into the path of Elia, and the forward drove into the box before planting his second of the game past Krul with the crucial aid of a deflection off Janmaat.
The pair instantly set about making themselves a nuisance, forcing a flurry of corners - the final one of which should have seen United level when Dummett rose unmarked but nodded wide.
Southampton were soon on the front foot again and on 78 minutes Pelle headed Nathaniel Clyne's delivery past the despairing dive of Krul but against the crossbar.
With time running out, Newcastle piled forward in search of an equaliser but the visitors held firm and travelled back to Hampshire with all three points.
Newcastle United (4-3-3): Tim Krul; Daryl Janmaat, Fabricio Coloccini (c), Paul Dummett (Mike Williamson 80), Massadio Haidara; Moussa Sissoko, Vurnon Anita (Emmanuel Riviere 68), Jack Colback; Remy Cabella, Ayoze Perez, Yoan Gouffran (Sammy Ameobi 68)
Southampton (4-2-3-1): Fraser Forster; Nathaniel Clyne, Jose Fonte (c), Florin Gardos, Ryan Bertrand; Harrison Reed, Steven Davis; Eljero Elia (Matt Targett 82), James Ward-Prowse (Jack Cork 60), Dusan Tadic (Shane Long 60); Graziano Pelle
Subs not used: Kelvin Davis, Jason McCarthy, Jake Hesketh, Lloyd Isgrove
Referee: Robert Madley (West Yorkshire)
Bookings: Newcastle - none; Southampton - Davis (63), Long (90)
Attendance: 49,307 (1,550 Southampton)