Southampton 0 Newcastle United 1
- Graham Scott
Allan Saint-Maximin’s late goal broke ten-man Southampton’s resistance at St. Mary’s and fired Newcastle United to a first Premier League victory since January.
An incident-packed first half saw the Saints’ Moussa Djenepo dismissed following a poor challenge on Isaac Hayden, Dwight Gayle squander a string of opportunities and Matt Ritchie miss the biggest one of all – failing to beat Alex McCarthy from the spot after Sofiane Boufal was penalised for a retrospective handball.
The second period was far less frantic, and though they had almost all of the ball, United struggled to carve out clear-cut opportunities against an increasingly compact home side. But, with 80 minutes on the clock, Saint-Maximin pounced on a moment of hesitancy from Southampton’s Yan Valery and punished the young defender by producing a composed finish.
United came under the cosh inside the opening five minutes after Danny Rose tripped Boufal just outside the 18-yard box. Jonjo Shelvey managed to head clear James Ward-Prowse’s dangerous ball in before the Magpies just about dealt with two Ryan Bertrand corners. Following the second, though, Boufal robbed Rose in a dangerous area and only a superb covering challenge from Ritchie kept the lurking Djenepo at bay.
Having got through that early onslaught, the Magpies could – and perhaps should – have taken the lead themselves. Shelvey did well to keep a move alive on the right before crossing for Gayle, who shot straight at McCarthy. Miguel Almirón looked set to convert after picking up the pieces but the Paraguayan was twice denied by the Saints’ ‘keeper.
A tight period followed before the Magpies’ cause was given a major shot in the arm by Djenepo’s dismissal. Referee Graham Scott initially only brandished a yellow after the wide-man’s landing foot caught Hayden high, but the whistler changed his mind after consulting his pitch-side monitor – the first time a player has been dismissed in such manner in a Newcastle fixture. United ought to have made their numerical advantage count immediately, but Gayle twice fluffed his lines in front of goal, heading a fine Shelvey cross straight at McCarthy before side-footing wide from Saint-Maximin’s cutback.
Further drama was to follow before the interval. More than 400 minutes of football after they last scored in a top-flight game, the Magpies were handed a golden chance to end their barren run after video assistant referee Peter Bankes adjudged Boufal to have handled the ball deliberately after coming under pressure from Saint-Maximin. But Ritchie failed to beat McCarthy from the spot, the Southampton stopper getting down low to his left and producing a relatively simple stop.
A dramatic end to the first half was followed by a low-key start to the second. United were sloppy in possession as they looked to make their extra man count and Southampton even had a chance of their own, Shane Long slicing high and wide of the near post after being slipped through by Ward-Prowse. After a period in which the Magpies looked short on ideas in the attacking third, Long had another go from the edge of the penalty area, stinging the palms of Martin Dúbravka before the ball bounced out of harm’s way.
At that point, Newcastle were labouring, and it was starting to look as though the Saints might just hold out for an unlikely point. But, with ten minutes to play, Saints right back Valery dawdled after a hopeful ball forward from substitute Sean Longstaff – who’d only just stepped onto the pitch. That allowed in Saint-Maximin, who robbed his fellow Frenchman and prodded the ball past McCarthy and into the far coner.