Saints beaten by Perez hat-trick

By SFC Media Sat 20 Apr Newcastle v Saints
Photo by Matt Watson
Sat 20 Apr 5.30PM
Premier League
Newcastle United
3
Southampton
1
Pérez [27' 31' 86']
Lemina [59']
Ward-Prowse (23') Romeu (62')
Referee: Anthony Taylor | Venue: St James' Park | Attendance: 52,191

Ayoze Perez was the toast of St James’ Park as the Spaniard’s first Newcastle hat-trick left Southampton embarking on the long journey home from the North East with nothing to show for a spirited second-half display.

The hosts were the better team in a first half in which Perez struck twice in four minutes to leave Saints with a mountain to climb.

But a double substitution at the interval breathed new life into Ralph Hasenhüttl’s men, as both replacements combined to halve the deficit when Mario Lemina dispatched Stuart Armstrong’s pass in style on his first appearance of 2019.

With Saints chasing an equaliser, Perez was alert to finish the job with his third goal of the day – an instinctive header four minutes from time.

Hasenhüttl was forced into two changes to his side who took a giant step towards Premier League survival by beating Wolves at St Mary’s last time out – Saints’ fourth win in six matches.

Jannik Vestergaard, having missed a couple of days’ training this week, was not deemed fit to play, while Yan Valery was taken ill.

That meant a return to the starting line-up for Jack Stephens, while James Ward-Prowse shifted across to right wing-back as Oriol Romeu came into the midfield to make his 150th appearance for the club.

Newcastle, two points better off at the start of play, were targeting a victory that would take them beyond the coveted 40, and were straight on the front foot when Miguel Almiron volleyed the ball against Pierre-Emile Højbjerg in the very first minute.

Cue optimistic cries for handball from the Toon Army, but the Dane was far too close to have any hope of avoiding the contact.

Saints' sold-out away following made themselves heard up in the gods

Stephens’s first involvement was to chase Almiron back towards the Saints goal, as Newcastle’s record signing arrowed a shot on the run from a tricky angle that sent Angus Gunn flying away to his left to concede a corner.

When Saints had the opportunity to mount an attack of their own, Danny Ings was wasteful with his pass after Josh Sims and Nathan Redmond raced forward in support of the striker.

Then Redmond beat the offside trap to find space down the left, cutting the ball back for Ward-Prowse, who had a free sight of goal until Matt Ritchie threw himself in the way.

Having threatened to open the deadlock at one end, Ward-Prowse was soon walking a tightrope at the other, as Newcastle broke from the resulting corner.

As Almiron surged beyond him, the Saints midfielder cynically blocked his path, leaving the natives baying for a red card as Ward-Prowse escaped with a yellow.

But a noisy home crowd soon had reason to raise the decibel level another notch or two as their team opened the scoring in the 27th minute.

After Isaac Hayden snapped into a tackle to dispossess Højbjerg, the ball fell kindly for Perez, who just waited for Jan Bednarek to commit himself before shooting between the legs of the Pole and in off the far post.

The goal had not exactly been coming, but now that Newcastle had their tails up they looked a different proposition.

Within four minutes, Salomon Rondon had got away down the left and delivered a low cross that flashed across Gunn’s six-yard box perfectly for the poaching Perez, who had his second of the day and his fifth in six games.

Perez's low shot beats Gunn to open the scoring in the 27th minute

Saints were being beaten at their own game, as Newcastle continued to harry their visitors into mistakes and counter-attack at speed.

Almiron was enjoying himself down the left, tricking his way past Højbjerg before overrunning the ball, while it took three yellow-shirted Saints to bring down Perez as the Spaniard showcased his dancing feet to earn a free-kick.

Rondon, whose cross set up Perez’s second, was almost the beneficiary of a similar ball from Almiron that squirted across the box, but Ryan Bertrand came charging out to shut down the Venezuelan, who was primed to make it three in first-half stoppage time.

Hasenhüttl is no stranger to a half-time change, so it was hardly a surprise to see the manager make a double substitution at the interval – just as he did last time Saints were trailing midway through a game, at home to Tottenham last month.

The returning Stephens was sacrificed, while Sims – one of the half-time replacements who helped turn the tide against Spurs – was also withdrawn, as Armstrong and Lemina entered the fray.

What followed was an instant improvement, as Armstrong burst into the box to win a corner, from which Maya Yoshida glanced Ward-Prowse’s delivery narrowly wide.

At the other end, Ki Sung-Yueng rattled the base of Gunn’s left-hand post from 25 yards as the hosts embarked on a rare foray into the Saints half.

The visitors’ greater intensity and pressure was rewarded just shy of the hour mark, as Lemina marked his return from injury in style.

Redmond picked out Armstrong with a square pass, before the Scot teed up his fellow substitute to curl a delightful low shot from 20 yards just inside the far post with deadly precision.

Lemina's perfectly-placed shot threw Saints a lifeline on his 50th appearance

Now Saints had a spring in their step and looked a force to be reckoned with. Redmond kept alive a lost cause to force a corner, from which his cross set up Yoshida for another chance, but the defender could only lift his volley over the bar with the chance to equalise.

Things were taking a quite drastic turn for Newcastle, whose lead looked increasingly precarious even before Almiron and Fabian Schar hobbled off with injury in quick succession.

That being said, another goal would likely be the clincher as the game entered its last 20 minutes, so Gunn’s heroics to keep out Hayden’s deflected volley probably kept Saints in the contest.

The keeper will be the first to say it should have counted for nothing, as Christian Atsu had clearly run the ball out of play before crossing from the left.

With Gunn still appealing for a goal-kick, he adjusted quite brilliantly to stick out a left hand after Hayden’s crisp connection took an unexpected nick on the way through.

Hasenhüttl played his final card with 14 minutes remaining, introducing Shane Long – a scorer in Saints’ last two matches – for Ings in pursuit of a point.

Instead Newcastle found a second wind and eventually a third goal. After Ward-Prowse’s goal-line clearance denied Rondon, Perez reacted superbly to redirect Ritchie’s header past the helpless Gunn to claim the matchball.

Newcastle United

Head to Head Stats

Southampton
  • Possession (%)
    43
    57
  • Shots
    15
    15
  • Shots on target
    6
    3
  • Corners
    4
    11
  • Passes Complete
    200
    317

Newcastle United

12
Martin Dubravka (GK)
19
Javier Manquillo
5
Fabian Schär
Federico Fernández (69′)
6
Jamaal Lascelles (C)
11
Matt Ritchie
3
Paul Dummett
24
Miguel Almirón
Christian Atsu (64′)
4
Ki Sung-yueng
14
Isaac Hayden
Mohamed Diamé (78′)
17
Ayoze Pérez
9
Salomón Rondón
10
Mohamed Diamé
8
Jonjo Shelvey
22
DeAndre Yedlin
30
Christian Atsu
18
Federico Fernández
26
Karl Darlow
13
Yoshinori Muto

Southampton

28
Angus Gunn (GK)
35
Jan Bednarek
3
Maya Yoshida
5
Jack Stephens
Mario Lemina (45′)
23
Pierre-Emile Højbjerg (C)
14
Oriol Romeu
21
Ryan Bertrand
16
James Ward-Prowse
39
Josh Sims
Stuart Armstrong (45′)
9
Danny Ings
Shane Long (76′)
22
Nathan Redmond
18
Mario Lemina
44
Fraser Forster
7
Shane Long
66
Kayne Ramsay
17
Stuart Armstrong
55
Callum Slattery
10
Charlie Austin
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