The French renaissance at Newcastle seems to be gathering full flight as they picked up their third win in 4 games and 4th in 6 games in all competitions ever since the influx of French talent occurred in the North-East in the January transfer window. The Toon fans, who flocked the stadium wearing berets and festooned St. James’ Park with the French tricolour, didn’t go home empty handed as the home side dished out a whole-hearted performance to come out on top of Southampton, 4-2.
This time it was the turn of Southampton to face the newly spirited Newcastle on a day that was themed as “France Day” at St James’ Park. The only thing the Saints fan that came all the way from the south coast on the longest journey between two sets of English clubs would take back would be positives vibes about how their team put themselves about.
The two teams came into the game level on points, only separated on goal difference. The win takes Newcastle up to 14th in the table and above their fierce North-East rivals Sunderland and six points clear of the dropzone. Meanwhile, Southampton drop to 16th and only 3 points clear of the dreaded 18th spot.
It was however the away side that got off to a bright start as they seemed to be a tease passing the ball around. And then on the 3 minute mark, Morgan Schneiderlin, the Frenchman on the Saints’ team, put the visitors in front to put an ironic touch to the French salutations. The French midfielder, normally known for his grinding qualities in midfield, swirled around to hook a ball on the volley after Rickie Lambert had delightfully headed a Jack Cork long ball on to the Frenchman’s path for him to neatly tuck it in to the corner.
Newcastle finally began to get a foothold on the game as they looked threatening with their build up play but untidy in the final third. It was 18 minutes on the clock when Papiss Cisse spurned their best opportunity till then. Debuchy, who was looking ever threatening on the right, managed to get free from the right and cut the ball back for Yoan Gouffran who miscued his shot. It fell kindly to the feet of Cisse who looked indecisive from the get go and couldn’t manage to test the goalkeeper, inspite of being only 5 yards out.
The home team continued to apply pressure and their perseverance finally paid off on 33 minutes. Yohan Cabaye played a delightful through ball on the left which which was latched on to by the speedy Yoan Gouffran. A delightful piece of footwork by the Frenchman enabled him to lose his marker inside the penalty area and created space for him to shoot. The shot was well saved by Artur Boruc but the rebound fell kindly to the feet of Moussa Sissoko who had the simple task of tapping it in from 2 yards out.
The home team weren’t done yet. On 42 minutes, Cisse made up for his howler at the beginning of the half as he got on the end of a Rob Elliot free kick from deep inside his own half after it was allowed to bounce. The Senegalese hitman then produced one of the hits of the season as he rocketed in Newcastle’s 2nd goal on the volley from 3o yards out.
The half however ended on a sour note for Newcastle as their skipper had to be replaced by French international Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa.
The second half started in the same fashion as the first as Southampton again got off the blocks quicker. The visitors dominated possession in the early goings. Paul Lambert was again looking his menacing self of late and forced a brilliant save from Newcastle’s stand-in keeper Rob Elliot as he whipped in a free-kick with great pace, destined for the back of net.
On 50 minutes, it was again Paul Lambert that made the home side pay.Lambert coolly tucked away the low cross from Adam Lallana although the ball was a little behind him. It was the Englishman’s 12th goal of the season.
Taken aback for the second time in the game, Newcastle looked to hit again but the Saints looked composed and well drilled. After 12 minutes of the second half, the away team was enjoying 75% of the possession in the half. Newcastle again threatened from the right and on 65 minutes they were awarded a penalty when Mathieu Debuchy’s volleyed cross into the box was handled in the box by Daniel Fox, who was on the field for a mere 8 minutes, having replaced Luke Shaw who was having trouble down the left. Yohan Cabaye duly stepped up and slotted the penalty home to give Newcastle the lead again.
Fox’s day of misery wasn’t over as of yet as on 79 minutes his clearance bounced off a helpless Jos Hooiveld and into the net for Newcastle’s 4th of the game and the final nail in the coffin for the Saints.
NEWCASTLE UNITED: Elliot, Debuchy, S Taylor, Coloccini (Yanga-Mbiwa 45), Santon, Jonas, Cabaye (Perch 78), Tiote, Sissoko, Gouffran (Anita 86), Cisse
SOUTHAMPTON: Boruc; Clyne, Yoshida, Hooiveld, Shaw (Fox 57); Schneiderlin, Cork, S Davis (Gaston 65); Rodriguez (Puncheon 80), Lallana, Lambert
Referee: Chris Foy
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