A massive win at the bottom for Benitez and the boys todat, with two goals from Kenedy and one from Matt Ritchie sealing an emphatic 3-0 win over Southampton.
After watching it closely from the Gallowgate this afternoon, here’s my thoughts on each player’s performance and my marks out of 10.
NUFC XI – (4-2-3-1): Dubravka – Yedlin, Lascelles, Lejeune, Dummett – Diame, Shelvey – Ritchie, Perez, Kenedy – Gayle
Dubravka – 7.5 – Had little to do but was commanding from crosses and was a safe pair of hands from the few shots they had. Kicking was mixed, but he looks much more comfortable with his feet than our other options.
Yedlin – 7 – A solid performance, with him doing well to keep Bertrand and Redmond quiet down their left. Enjoyed the odd burst forward down the right, but stuck to his task at the back and made a few important clearances.
Lascelles – 8 – Didn’t have a great deal to do but dealt with anything they threw at him, winning just about everything in the air and was quick to cut out any danger. A typically reliable, no nonsense performance from captain fantastic! Surely Southgate will be seriously considering him for England now?!
Lejeune – 8.5 – Was really impressive today and without doubt one of our best players on the pitch. Was calm and composed in everything he did and dealt with just about everything Southampton threw at him with ease. Covered for Dummett well whenever he decided to come across and continues to shine alongside Lascelles.
Dummett – 8 – Made several brilliant recovery tackles to show he’s no slouch when Southampton ran at him down their right. Can’t remember him being beaten all game, with him and Lejeune combining very well to cut out any of their attacks down that side. He may not have offered a thing going forward, with Kenedy doing all the work ahead of him, but it was another brilliant defensive display from Dummett.
Diame – 8 – Was the one NUFC player who really set the tempo early on by getting in their faces and giving their midfield no time on the ball. Turned over possession several times, with one brilliant piece of pressing actually setting Gayle in on goal to make it 2-0. Another commanding display from big Mo – a player who really has looked a different animal over the last few months.
Shelvey – 8 – Bagged his first two assists of the season, popping it up to Kenedy for our first and laying it off for Ritchie for our third. Gave his that bit of quality in the middle and was constantly looking to put awkward balls in behind for a shaky Southampton back-line to deal with. A well-earned standing ovation when he was replaced by Merino late on – his return today was massive!
Ritchie – 7.5 – Took his goal really well, guiding home a controlled low shot from the edge of the box. Helped out Yedlin well, with him often dropping deep to track Bertrand when needed. Wasn’t massively involved in the game, but seeing him back on the scoresheet and kicking over corner flags in celebration is a great sight for NUFC fans!
Perez – 7 – Was a little too weak and cheap in possession at times, however he played a huge part in the second goal, carrying the ball from his own half before laying it off to Gayle who set up Kenedy for a tap in. He’s a frustrating player who often flatters to deceive, but he worked hard today and played a big part in our all important second goal.
Kenedy – 9* – His first goal was superbly taken and absolutely vital to give us such a positive start to this relegation six-pointer at the bottom. He worked hard to get into dangerous positions in the box, and that paid off for our second, with him keeping up with play to tap in Gayle’s pass across the box for 2-0. Two huge goals for the Chelsea man whose looking like a brilliant loan signing.
Gayle – 7 – He missed two big chances to give us that all important 2-0 lead in the first half, however his contribution for Kenedy’s second was brilliant, sliding a pass across goal for him to tap in when many thought he’d shoot. Made some decent runs in behind which they struggled to pick up and will be frustrated not to have got on the scoresheet, but that’s 2 goals and 2 assists in his last four!
Atsu caused them problems during his brief stint on the left with some direct running and Joselu replaced Gayle late on, putting himself about, looking to hold the ball up and pressing Saints defenders.
Merino came on for the last few minutes but the game was practically dead by that point.