Newcastle 3 Soton 2: Willock scores on debut as nine-man Newcastle cling on for three points
JOE WILLOCK netted on debut as nine-man Newcastle hung on in the driving rain.
The Arsenal loanee struck early before Miguel Almiron made it 2-0 with a deflected strike.
Fellow loanee debutant Takumi Minamino got out back for Southampton, who had been walloped 9-0 at Manchester United in midweek.
Man-of-the-match Almiron added a third just before the break.
But in a mad few minutes after the interval, James Ward-Prowse cut the deficit with a stunning free-kick and Jeff Hendrick was sent off for a second yellow card.
Steve Bruce’s men went down to nine men later as Fabian Schar was carried off injured with all subs used, but somehow they held out for the three points.
The weather on Tyneside was atrocious and worsened throughout the game, with puddles appearing on the pitch.
Willock claimed he is a box-to-box midfielder who likes to grab a goal after joining from Arsenal on deadline day.
He lived up to that statement as he opened the scoring in clinical fashion with just 16 minutes played.
It was made by Allan Saint-Maximin, who beat Jan Bednarek to the ball out wide, cut in and squared for Willock to steer home.
Saint-Maximin and Bednarek were heavily involved in the second ten minutes later.
Newcastle’s fleet-footed Frenchman cut back for Almiron, whose shot flew in via a deflection so significant off Bednarek that it was initially given as an own goal until replays showed the ball would have been going in.
Saints hit back instantly from their own loanee debutant as Minamino brilliantly controlled a Ryan Bertrand pass with one touch and blasted it past high into the net with another.
The hosts were then hit with a major injury blow as star man Callum Wilson hobbled off with a hamstring problem.
It was the second first-half sub for Steve Bruce’s injury-hit side after Javi Manquillo had hobbled off earlier.
Yet there was still time for the Toon to score another before the break, caused by Alex McCarthy’s poor pass.
It allowed Almiron to nick the ball off Bertrand and curl low into McCarthy’s near post from the edge of the area.
That strike meant Newcastle had scored three goals in a first half of Premier League football for the first time in FIVE years.
While Saints had shipped TWELVE goals in one and a half halves of top-flight football, having taken two months to concede the same amount previously.
Yet, barring three mistakes for the three goals, there did not seem much between the two sides and you always felt the next goal could be crucial.
Southampton got it as, moments after Jonjo Shelvey had missed a sitter, Ward-Prowse scored his TENTH Premier League free-kick with a sublime effort from 30 yards out.
To make matters worse for Newcastle, Hendrick was then given a second yellow for cynically dragging back Minamino.
From then on it was whether Bruce’s ten men could hold on.
Danny Ings was a whisker away from the equaliser when his clipped shot hit the post just after the hour.
Newcastle’s situation became even more precarious in the final 12 minutes as Fabian Schar had to be carried off on a stretcher due to a knee injury, with all three subs already used up.
But they defended admirably with makeshift defence to inflict a fifth straight league defeat for Saints for the first time in 23 years.
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