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NEWCASTLE UNITED climbed into the Premier League top half and seven points clear of the relegation zone with a 2-1 victory over Southampton at St James’ Park.
It was a win born out of hard work and good fortune rather than quality, but the Magpies managed to turn the game on its head with goals from Jonjo Shelvey and Federico Fernandez after Danny Ings opened the scoring.
Everything really changed when Andy Carroll was brought on in the second half, as he set up the equaliser. Manager Steve Bruce was quick to heap praise on the striker.
“It was like the Andy Carroll of 10 years ago!” Bruce beamed after the game.
“What a ball for the goal, Jonjo hasn’t had to break his stride.
“If he stays well he could be a big asset to us. He lifted the crowd and they were terrific. They stayed with the team.”
Southampton settled much quicker and penned Newcastle in their own half in the early stages. Only two stunning saves from Martin Dubravka, denying Nathan Redmond, kept the scores level.
First, he stood tall when the winger latched onto a loose ball and ran through on goal, before acrobatically blocking an effort from the resulting corner.
Newcastle did grow into the game gradually, and it was no surprise that Allan Saint-Maximin was once again leading the charge.
He lifted a rather flat first half atmosphere with a stylish nutmeg in the opening exchanges, but the Magpies headed into the break in desperate need of greater intensity.
What looks like being a fairly serious hamstring injury, suffered towards the end, may well put a downer on a positive afternoon on Tyneside. Bruce admitted he took a risk in starting the Frenchman after three games in a week and hopes it hasn’t backfired.
“We don’t know how serious it is,” he continued.
“He was the big one yesterday and he obviously hadn’t recovered.
“I’ll kick myself if he is out for a long time but we have to hope it isn’t too serious.”
The Saints grabbed the lead seven minutes after the break through Ings’s fifth goal in as many games. A long ball over the top caught the Newcastle defence cold and he finished confidently.
A second goal almost arrived moments later when Cedric tested Dubravka after a swift counter-attack. From the resulting corner, Moussa Djenepo failed to guide a free header on target.
Carroll replaced the ineffective Joelinton and helped Newcastle level soon after his introduction. He crossed Shelvey’s free-kick back into the area for the midfielder to head home.
With just over 15 minutes remaining, Ryan Bertrand should have restored Southampton’s lead but he somehow headed Shane Long’s flick-on over the bar.
He was made to rue it, too, as with three minutes remaining, Fernandez fired home the rebound after substitute Sean Longstaff’s shot from distance.
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