Southampton 2-2 Newcastle United
It could have been very different.
Twice Newcastle would take the lead only to gift Southampton two equalisers that will have Rafa pulling he hair out after another excellent display.
Isn’t it nice to be able to moan about not picking up all three points after a visit to St Mary’s though. After a 3-1, 4-0 and 4-0 reverse in our last three visits this is yet more sign that Newcastle continue to progress under Rafa.
For an out of sorts Saints side the point will feel more of a worry as they continue to struggle in front of goal and had to rely on some poor closing down and a penalty to snatch just a point.
Rafa would make a couple of changes for the starting eleven with Lejeune and Hayden coming back into the side at the expense of the unlucky Clark and Merino, with the latter having just signed his new 5 year deal at the Magpies.
STARTING XI: Elliot, Yedlin, Lascelles, Lejeune, Manquillo, Hayden, Shelvey, Ritchie, Atsu (Murphy, 82), Perez (Merino, 63), Joselu (Gayle, 68)
‘Enjoying’ just 38% of possession it would be easy to think that Newcastle had been played off the park by the home side. But for those interested in the stats our 19 shots and 5 on target, compared to their 12 and 2 tells more of the tale of a game that Newcastle really looked comfortable in throughout.
Indeed, despite all the possession Southampton would enjoy it would be the black and whites (well, blue for the day) that would take an early lead. The scorer, as unlikely as the result, listening to some of the so call pundits before the match, as Isaac Hayden scoring his first goal for Newcastle, indeed his first ever Premier League goal. This had come after a snap shot from Atsu had been saved by the unconvincing ex Mag Forster allowing Hayden to drive home from outside the box with the keeper getting back to his feet.
This was no more than Newcastle deserved on 20 minutes after growing into the game and always looking dangerous on the break.
Indeed the lead would last into the second half until Gabbiadini would find a way to slot home having initially run down a blind ally only to turn back towards goal and drive past Elliot into the right hand corner of the goal.
You’d have thought that this would lead to something of an onslaught by the Saints but instead it took just 2 minutes to Newcastle to regain the lead. This time Perez, who’d offered little to that point would exchange passes in midfield before racing into the Southampton box. HIs first effort would be well saved but only palmed back into his path, but with seemingly better options in the centre of the box the Spaniard would slam the ball home to make it 2-1 and send the 6,000 travelling fans into ecstasy.
Things could have been different at 1-0 when a Joselu flick on looped over the Saints keeper only to come back off the bar.
And Newcastle continued to look dangerous on the break only for the Magpies to shoot themselves in the foot. This time a penalty after Lejeune, perhaps ring rusty from his lack of starts, would needlessly trip Shane Long in the box with the ball already sailing out of play.
Up would step Gabbiadini to score again with a well take spot kick and put the hosts back on parity.
Both teams would push on for a win with Newcastle always looking the most likely to find a late winner. But in the end the points shared.
A point gained. Maybe. Two points dropped. Probably.