Southampton 2 Newcastle United 2
- Kevin Friend
Newcastle United were twice pegged back at Southampton as they were forced to settle for a 2-2 draw on Sunday afternoon.
Manolo Gabbiadini’s effort five minutes after the break drew the hosts level, but just seconds later Ayoze Perez put the Magpies back in front, snatching a deserved goal from a tight angle.
But United couldn’t quite hold on, and when Saints were awarded a penalty with just over quarter of an hour remaining, Gabbiadini lashed home from the spot to earn his side a share of the spoils.
Newcastle began brightly on the south coast, with Christian Atsu firing in a ninth-minute shot which brushed the sidenetting, but Serbian playmaker Dusan Tadic responded, offering a reminder of the threat Saints pose. He cleared Rob Elliot’s crossbar with a curling strike before nodding over Nathan Redmond’s inviting cross when well-placed.
But with just under 20 minutes on the clock, it was the visitors who seized the advantage. Some dogged work from Perez down the left gave Matt Ritchie the chance to cross for Atsu, whose low effort was blocked. The ball rebounded kindly into the path of Hayden, and his 25-yarder wrong-footed former Magpies stopper Fraser Forster and nestled in the Southampton net.
It took some resolute defending from skipper Jamaal Lascelles and the returning Florian Lejeune to keep Mauricio Pellegrino’s men at bay after the goal, as they enjoyed a spell of pressure. But forwards Shane Long and Monolo Gabbiadini were well marshalled by the Magpies pair, who got their heads and bodies in the way of whatever the hosts threw at them.
Newcastle started the second half brightly though, and almost bagged a second in bizarre fashion. Perez wriggled free of his man on the right and crossed low towards Joselu, but the ball spun up off the Spaniard’s marker and looped onto Forster’s crossbar, with the rebound just evading the oncoming Atsu.
And just a couple of minutes later, Southampton drew level. Gabbiadini picked up a deep cross from the left, cut inside, held off a challenge and planted a shot past Elliot and into the bottom right-hand corner.
But parity lasted barely a minute. United responded brilliantly, immediately looking to attack, and a fantastic pass from Ritchie gave Perez a sight of goal. His powerful shot was fumbled by Forster, giving the forward a second bite, and though the angle was tight, Perez managed to beat the England international at his near post to restore the visitors’ lead.
Mikel Merino’s introduction soon after almost led to another, as his nutmeg gave Atsu a shooting opportunity, but his shot was too high to trouble the nervy-looking Forster.
Southampton saw plenty of the ball after Perez’s fine finish, however, and were eventually presented with a golden opportunity to level the scores. Long burst into the box and was upended by Lejeune, with referee Kevin Friend pointing straight to the spot. Italian frontman Gabbiadini stepped up, blasting an unstoppable penalty past Elliot into the top right-hand corner to level the scores once more.
And that’s the way it stayed, though Newcastle did go close to grabbing a winner inside the final ten minutes, when Ritchie whipped a free kick just past the post and Lejeune saw his goalbound header hacked off the line.