Christian Atsu boosted Newcastle United beat Southampton
Ghana international Christian Atsu boosted Premier League side Newcastle United to beat Southampton 3-0 at St James Park.
Atsu who came in the second half as substitute to replace Kenedy in the 78 minutes made an impact as the Magpies secured all the three points and a big step towards securing Premier League safety.
The Magpies were in control of the game practically from the outside, with Brazilian Kenedy opening the scoring in front of the Leazes End after less than two minutes.
The wide-man applied the finishing touch to a fine counter-attacking move to double United’s lead just before the half-hour mark, and a poor Saints side were killed off early into the second half, as Matt Ritchie scored for the second home game in succession.
There were barely 60 seconds on the clock when Kenedy found the net for the first time on the day, and the first time as a Newcastle player. Jonjo Shelvey floated a ball over the top, which the Brazilian took down between Cedríc Soares and Jack Stephens. With the Saints’ Portuguese right back in no man’s land, he worked the ball onto his favoured left foot before picking out the bottom corner – albeit with something of an unclean strike.
But, from their own, resultant corner, Mauricio Pellegrino’s side were undone on the break. Mario Lemina lost his footing after lining up a shot on the edge of the penalty area, allowing Ayoze Pérez the chance to carry the ball away. He played in Gayle – who had covered some distance to catch up – and the frontman unselfishly teed up Kenedy to convert from six yards.
Southampton on the other hand made a double substitution at the break, but it was Newcastle who made the more promising start to the second half. Pérez nearly added a third for the home side with 52 minutes on the clock, flicking Ritchie’s corner just high of the target with an unfamiliar headed effort. Kenedy then gathered DeAndre Yedlin’s cross from the right before sliding the ball wide of the far post.
The fatal blow came with the Magpies’ next attack, though. The Saints’ backline stood off Shelvey 20 yards out, and when two defenders finally did close in, the midfielder calmly rolled the ball along the floor for Ritchie to bend into the far corner with a first-time strike.
Captain Ryan Bertrand and Stephens both headed off-target for Southampton after the hour-mark, before substitute Josh Sims tested Martin Dúbravka after cutting in from the left. But though they started to enjoy a little more time on the ball as the half progressed, the Saints lacked a cutting edge.
Indeed, in contrast to their last win on home soil – against Manchester United last month – the Magpies were able to coast over the finishing line this time around, moving five points clear of the Premier League’s bottom three with eight games left to play.