Post by Football News on Oct 16, 2017 21:17:30 GMT
Southampton 2-2 Newcastle
Home team scorers Manolo Gabbiadini 49 Manolo Gabbiadini 75 Pen
Away team scorers Isaac Hayden 20 Ayoze Perez 51
As Mauricio Pellegrino allowed himself a sigh of relief at the full-time whistle, his embrace with his former mentor Rafael Benítez said it all. A hard-fought encounter in which Newcastle twice took the lead through Isaac Hayden and Ayoze Pérez, before Southampton were rescued by two goals from Manolo Gabbiadini, ended with the substitute Steven Davis clearing a Florian Lejeune header from under his crossbar.
Such are the margins in the Premier League, where the two managers at opposite ends of the experience spectrum saw their players produce an entertaining match that left both relatively happy in mid-table.
“These kind of games you are disappointed because you could have won but at the same time happy because you go away with another point against a good team,” Benítez said. “I was not happy with the two goals we conceded but it’s a learning process and we are learning quickly.”
At around 330 miles the journey from St James’ Park to the south coast is one of the longest English football has to offer but even an awful record in which their side had conceded 11 goals in their last three visits did not stop 3,500 Geordies from coming down the A34 once again. After the promising start Benítez’s side have made to the season they travelled more in expectation this time.
Southampton, by contrast, have struggled to find their feet under Pellegrino, scoring only three goals at St Mary’s all season. In a bid to improve that statistic the former Argentina defender – who spent three years with Benítez at Valencia before joining him as first a player and then assistant coach at Liverpool and then Internazionale – recalled the Italy striker Gabbiadini.
Unusually in the age of wings-backs and false nines Newcastle also lined up in a 4-4-2 formation, with Hayden replacing Mikel Merino alongside Jonjo Shelvey, who sported a blue cast to protect his fractured finger reportedly sustained breaking up a training ground fight last week, in central midfield.
A couple of years ago the former Liverpool midfielder would have been away with England during the international break rather than acting as peacemaker at his club but he has since fallen down the pecking order despite possessing a range of passing that few can match. That was in evidence during the opening exchanges as Newcastle started with real intent.
The travelling fans did not have to wait long for their reward, with Hayden’s long-range volley catching Fraser Forster flat-footed in the Southampton goal after Christian Atsu’s initial effort was blocked. It was just the start Benítez must have wished for. Led by their outstanding captain Jamaal Lascelles, the rest of the half was a lesson in how to protect a lead from a manager who has made defensive stability his priority throughout his career.
His apprentice must have been scratching his head to find a way back into the game at half-time, with Maya Yoshida almost making the task even harder when he sliced a clearance against his own crossbar within two minutes of the restart. Gabbiadini finally provided the spark the home supporters craved when he eluded Lejeune to fire past Rob Elliot from the edge of the box.
Less than 90 seconds later Matt Ritchie’s pass found Pérez on the right and the Spaniard pounced on the rebound when Forster spilled his initial effort. It was an embarrassing moment for the former Newcastle trainee, who left the north-east in 2012 having never appeared for the first team.
Pellegrino threw on Davis and Sofiane Boufal and his gamble paid off 15 minutes from time as Lejeune roughly challenged Shane Long in the penalty area and Gabbiadini made no mistake from the spot to rescue a point from a match neither side deserved to lose. “We got the point but it was a chaotic game,” Pellegrino said.
“After the equaliser we conceded too quickly and a soft goal because we had to be better organised. The anxiety to try and score the second meant we lost some control and maybe that was my responsibility because I told my players to be more direct in the second half.”
For Benítez, conceding two goals when they had twice been ahead was a low point on a day when he felt Newcastle’s fans deserved more. “It was a pity for them not to go back with the three points,” he said. “The team spirit is very good, the city, the fans – everyone is behind the team. The players appreciate that and it has to be like this until the end of the season.”