An incredible game at St James’ Park, with Miguel Almrion the star man as a NINE-man Newcastle United held on to beat Southampton.
Here’s an assessment of each player’s performance along with marks out of 10:
Darlow – 7 – Got nowhere near a few crosses and could’ve been punished if the loose balls weren’t cleared by defenders around him. Can’t be criticised for being beaten by Minamino’s thunderous drive but perhaps gave Ward-Prowse too much of a target to hit for their second. It was a stunner but we all know where he put them from that position! He came up trumps in the end, however, with his early save to deny Ings and point-blank save to stop Vestegaard heading home proving crucial. Wasted time expertly, too!
Manquillo – 6 – Forced off on the 25th minute mark with what’s being described as an “awful” ankle injury. It was a solid start for him and he tried to soldier on, but he was clearly unable to put weight on that left ankle. Let’s hope it’s not a bad one as he’s without doubt the club’s best right-back.
Hayden – 7.5 – Arguably at fault for their two goals but he was monstrous in the middle when we needed him to be in the final 30 minutes. Got nowhere near Minamino for their first goal, being caught on his heels as the Liverpool loanee ghosted past him and lashed home. Then gave away a cheap free kick that led to Ward-Prowse making it 3-2, however he responded to that with several huge blocks, headers and clearances to protect our lead.
Schar – 6 – A mixed bag, with some important interventions followed by the odd careless challenge that saw him get sucked in and commit a silly foul. His play in possession was similar, with a few of his forward balls wayward after his brilliant pass out to Saint-Maximin played a key part in Willock’s early opener. Forced off with a serious looking knee injury after throwing himself into a tackle from a poor free-kick that was hit straight into the Southampton wall.
Lewis – 8 – Battled for every ball and worked his way out of some tricky situations on countless occasions. Defended much better, with Redmond rarely getting past him, and made several blocks or clearances to cut out crosses and allow us to reset. Also used the ball well, playing a few lovely balls down the line and showing endless energy to get up and down the pitch all game. If confident and used in a system that allows him to get on the front foot with options ahead of him, there’s definitely a good player in there!
Hendrick – 2 – He would’ve got a 1 if it wasn’t for the fact his cross field pass set Saint-Maximin free in the build up to Almiron’s goal. We know the Irishman has his limitations and can sometimes go missing, but he took that quite literally here with a brainless pull of the shirt when already on a booking. His moment of madness left us hanging on for dear life and VERY nearly cost us dearly!
Shelvey – 5 – Stunning left footed pass to put Wilson in down the right early on, but had a few shocking deliveries from set pieces – and one was costly, gifting Southampton the chance to counter and make it 2-1. Missed a big chance in the second half just before Ward-Prowse made it 3-2, with him arriving in the box and side-footing wide from eight yards out. He didn’t shirk his defensive duties late on but showed his naivety and almost cost us.
Willock – 8.5 – A brilliant debut from the Arsenal loanee. A few careless passes that gave Southampton a chance to counter early on, but he followed that with a few impressive drives forward with the ball – and showed his ability to arrive in the box (which he did on countless occasions) when finishing Saint-Maximin’s cut-back to give us a 1-0 lead. Also created Shelvey’s big chance in the second half and did very well to last the game considering he was out on his feet. He’ll give us EXACTLY what we’ve been missing if he can keep doing that!
Almiron – 10* – I’m running out of superlatives for this man’s form since the turn of the year! Some of his displays have gone under the radar, but he was the star of the show here. Two goals, superb pressing to create his all important second (which was finished very calmly), endless energy and desire to track back, close down and cover for teammates out of position and an all round incredible display from the Paraguayan. Also did brilliantly late on to win fouls, waste time and hold onto the ball as Southampton pushed for an equaliser. An outstanding performance in every sense.
Saint-Maximin – 8 – His first Premier League start since November and he immediately offered what we’ve been missing. Skipped past Southampton players for fun but also had final product, with him bagging TWO crucial assists. The first was a brilliant run and perfectly weighted cut-back for Willock and the second was a slightly more simply but equally effective pass that Almiron fired in off Bednarek. Also deserves praise for his part in our third, with him leading the press that eventually forced the error. Tired in the second half but it’s a big relief he came off when he did, with it vital we keep him fit following Wilson’s injury.
Wilson – 7 – Ran the channels, linked up the play and was a physical presence they struggled to handle before limping off with a muscle injury on the 35th minute mark. The win eases our relegation fears, but he will be a BIG miss if the hamstring injury is a bad one.
Krafth – 7 – A dodgy start after giving away a few cheap free kicks and getting himself booked, but recovered brilliantly in the second half and allowed VERY little to come in from that left-hand side.
Joelinton – 7 – Didn’t do enough when initially played up top in Wilson’s place, with his lack of movement noticeable, however put in solid shift down the right-hand side in the end. When he wasn’t helping out Krafth, he carried the ball, drew free kicks and won headers at both ends to help relieve the pressure on Darlow’s goal.
Dummett – 7.5 – He wasn’t on long, but his 25 minutes on the field were monstrous and played a key role in getting us over the line with all three points. Several huge headers away and a massive SEVEN clearances to keep Southampton at bay when we were down to nine.