Saints fall to rare home defeat


Southampton fell to only their second home defeat of the season, as they were beaten 2-1 by a resurgent Newcastle United.

The night had started well for Ralph Hasenhüttl’s side in this rearranged clash, with Stuart Armstrong heading them in front on 25 minutes, but goals from Chris Wood and Bruno Guimarães turned the game on its head and meant the visitors joined Wolves in being the only away sides to taste victory at St Mary’s.

Hasenhüttl made two changes from the side that had lost away to Aston Villa at the weekend, as Mohammed Salisu returned to fitness and replaced Jack Stephens at centre-back, while Kyle Walker-Peters was also restored to the starting line-up, with Romain Perraud dropping to the bench.

For Newcastle, the influential Joelinton and Allan Saint-Maximin both missed out with injury and illness respectively.

Saints set about trying to take advantage of the visitors’ misfortune, as they looked to bounce back from the loss at Villa Park that had ended their seven-match unbeaten run, and, after a quiet start to the game, they soon began to exert some control.

Oriol Romeu had the first notable sight of goal, as an attempted clearance from a corner fell to him just outside the area in the 21st minute, but he was unable to replicate his recent stunner against Norwich, this time lashing high and wide after bringing the ball under control.

Two minutes later came an even better opening. It was Romeu who instigated this one, winning the ball off Jonjo Shelvey in midfield and, as a result, setting Ché Adams away on a break. Adams drew a defender across and then slipped a pass to Armando Broja, who was free to his right, but the striker didn’t get his touch quite right, moving him slightly out of position and allowing Martin Dúbravka to narrow the angle and save.

Saints didn’t have to wait much longer for the breakthrough, though.

James Ward-Prowse spread a pass out to Walker-Peters on the left, and he sent an in-swinging cross towards the back post, picking out Mohamed Elyounoussi. He managed to loop a header back across the six-yard box, into the path of Armstrong, whose header towards goal deflected off defender Dan Burn and into the corner of the net.

The lead was a short-lived one, however, as Newcastle quickly levelled the game, in the 32nd minute.

Shelvey was the provider, with his in-swinging cross from a deep position on the left picking out the run of Wood, with the January signing from Burnley powering a header past Fraser Forster.

Saints almost restored their advantage soon after, as a low cross from Tino Livramento ricocheted towards Adams on the right side of the area, but his thunderous volley smashed against the crossbar and bounced clear.

Despite the home side’s dominance of the game, it was Newcastle who almost stole a half-time lead, but Joe Willock headed over from a good position after being picked out by Guimarães’s cross with the last action of the first 45 minutes.

They were not so wasteful seven minutes into the second half, though, when they did indeed claim the lead.

A deep corner was headed back across goal by Burn, and Guimarães produced a smart flick from six yards out to send the ball high into the net.

It kick-started a frenetic spell, with the visitors immediately going close to making it 3-1, as Matt Targett almost scored against his former club, only for his bouncing strike from 20 yards that was heading for the corner to be diverted clear by Salisu from inside the six-yard box.

Saints were reeling a bit and needed to survive any unnecessary additional damage. Fortunately, they were able to do so, and as the game ticked past the hour mark they began to get back on the ball more and settle into their rhythm.

Still, creating a significant chance was proving hard, and Hasenhüttl made a change in his attack with 18 minutes left as he looked to spark something, with Adam Armstrong replacing Broja.

It took Armstrong only a few moments to work an opportunity, spinning into the area on the right-hand side before bending a shot wide of the far post. A sign of encouragement for Saints, at least.

There was almost more than that on 78 minutes, as Livramento sent in a cross from the right that veered away from its intended target but headed very much towards goal, with Dúbravka doing well to tip it over the bar. And the Newcastle keeper was again called on from the resulting corner, saving from Salisu’s header.

In between those two efforts, Hasenhüttl made his second change, sending on Shane Long for Romeu.

With five minutes to go, he would make his third, as Moussa Djenepo was introduced for Elyounoussi.

An equaliser almost arrived with a little under two minutes left on the clock, but Dúbravka dived low to his right to make a fine save, clawing the ball away after a Walker-Peters cross was met by the head of Salisu at the back post.

Stuart Armstrong then almost salvaged it right at the end, with his long-range strike being turned over by Dúbravka, but it was a night where it was not to be for Saints, who now have only three days before they return to St Mary's for a meeting with Watford.