Southampton surge out of relegation zone
Southampton 2 Newcastle United 0Alan Pardew endured a prickly relationship with the Southampton chairman, Nicolas Cortese, before being dismissed as manager in 2010 and his first return to St Mary’s since then brought only more pain.
Newcastle started well, Demba Ba heading just wide in the sixth minute, but once Southampton realised they were facing a sterner test than Queens Park Rangers provided last week, they rose to it. The home side took control in midfield allowing Southampton’s attack to flourish.
Jason Puncheon forced a good save from Tim Krul in the 12th minute and Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert and Gaston Ramirez joined him in pulling the Newcastle defence hither and thither with imaginative movement and passing.
Newcastle were rattled after Lambert rattled the visitors’ crossbar with a fine 25-yard free-kick and they were floored in the 34th minute. A through-ball by Lambert lured Krul out of his box but the goalkeeper’s attempted clearance went to Nathaniel Clyne, who tried to launch the ball into the net from 40 yards. Mike Williamson managed to foil that effort but his header fell to Ramirez, who calmly laid the ball to Lallana to tap into the net.
Newcastle briefly looked more menacing after the restart but Southampton were stronger and Krul erred in the 60th minute to allow them to extend their lead. Lallana and Puncheon swapped cunning passes before the latter fired the ball across the face of goal. Krul tried to clasp it but merely spilled it to the feet of Ramirez, who bashed it gratefully into the net from three yards.
Saints were not sated, hitting the goal twice more, first through a Puncheon shot and then from a header by Jose Fonte. More than a third goal, however, Southampton wanted a first clean sheet of the season and Paulo Gazzaniga did his bit by producing a marvellous stop in the 73rd minute, turning away a Davide Santon shot from six yards.