The second last home game of the season at St James’ Park, featuring a stunning display from hat-trick hero Ayoze Perez.
Here’s an assessment of each player’s performance and my marks out of 10:
NUFC XI – (3-4-2-1): Dubravka (7) – Schar (6), Lascelles (6), Dummett (8) – Manquillo (7), Hayden (8) , Ki (5), Ritchie (8) –– Perez (10*), Almiron (8) – Rondon (7.5) – SUBS – Atsu (6), Fernandez (6), Diame (N/A)
Dubravka – 7 – Made two important saves to deny Ings in the first half and Yoshida in the second, but was very nearly caught out on the odd occasion, with him flapping at one cross early on and finding himself in No Man’s Land as he gambled on the ball going out later on. A mixed day for him but still deserves a 7 for making a few key saves at vital times.
Schar – 6 – Looked a little shaky early on, being slightly more hesitant than we’ve been used to seeing him, but he soon recovered to them at bay and limit them to few chances in the first half. Was taken off in the second half with what appears to be a minor knock.
Lascelles – 6 – Plenty big wins in the air in the first half and was steady to keep Ings quiet, however he did become a little sloppy on the ball in the second half, with a few half clearances or weak passes inviting pressure onto ourselves. Not a bad display, but Dummett bailed out both himself and Schar at times today.
Dummett – 8.5 – Our standout defender today, with him being absolutely superb at the back; especially in moments where we struggled in the second half. Put his body on the line late on with some outstanding goal-saving headers, made one vital block in the first half to deny Sims from close range and read the danger well all day.
Manquillo – 7 – The Spaniard was solid defensively in our win away at Leicester and he continued in the same vein here. There were a few sloppy passes here and there but he stood up to the task well against Redmond and Bertrand, timing his tackles, sticking to his task throughout and putting in another pretty solid showing.
Hayden – 8 – Another brilliant all-round display from arguably our most consistent performer of 2019. He was strong in the tackle (a superb challenge of his actually created Perez’s first goal), dominant in the air and tidy on the ball, with him almost scoring with a well-struck volley from range that was saved superbly by Gunn. It will be a huge shame if he does end up leaving this summer.
Ki – 5 – A few too many risky or misplaced passes for me, either seeing him put his teammates in trouble or setting Southampton away for an avoidable counter attack. I also felt he was sometimes a little weak or clumsy in the tackle, however he did still play his part, helping Hayden win the midfield battle in the first half in particular and coming close when a low strike from range clipped the post. A 5 may seem a little harsh, but he was very mixed today.
Ritchie – 8 – His energy and determination to chase every ball was infectious today, with there being no such thing as a ‘lost cause’ in his world. He did well positionally at both ends, supporting Dummett defensively and Almiron offensively, also playing a part in Perez’s third goal with a brave header to set him up. His all action display was summed up by him frantically chasing down a Southampton player like his life depended on it when we were 3-1 up with just seconds to spare. He may have his limitations, but his work rate, will to win and application is second to none.
Perez – 10* – Today’s hat-trick hero, but he did much more than just score today. Not only did he show brilliant attacking instincts and several deft touches to score his first Premier League hat-trick, his all round play was outstanding, showing some incredible footwork, retaining possession impressively in tight areas and linking the play expertly. It’s time for his doubters to realise that he’s actually pretty good!
Almiron – 8 – His energy, imagination and intensity was infectious once again, with his all action first-half display helping us get on the front foot immediately. He could’ve got Ward-Prowse sent off, being body checked as he bursted through on goal, with him constantly forcing Southampton errors thanks to his non-stop work rate and pressure. Unlucky not to get himself an assist, with a brilliant bit of wing play putting it on a plate for Rondon at one stage. He may have been forced off with a hamstring injury, but he set the tone for what was another big win at St James’ Park.
Rondon – 7.5 – Laid on Perez’s second goal brilliantly, with his inch-perfect cross finding the Spaniard at the back post. Some of his hold up play wasn’t quite as good as we’ve been used to seeing this season, but, he ran himself into the ground as ever and put in another big shift.
Atsu – 6 – Had a few good bursts down the left after coming on for Almiron, although sometimes looked a little slow to react when getting back to defend.
Fernandez – 6 – Helped shore tings up at the back after Southampton pulled one back and Schar came off injured. Solid.
Diame – N/A – Was only on for the final 10 minutes so hard to give a rating, but he used his physicality to get in Southampton’s face and shielded the back four pretty well in the closing stages.