Eljero Elia scored his first two Southampton goals, and the opportunistic Saints again climbed into third-place in the Premier League with a 2-1 road win over Newcastle United on Saturday.
Yoan Gouffran’s awkward goal was Newcastle’s only tally, as the Magpies out attempted Southampton and backed them down for most of the final 20 minutes but couldn’t find an equalizer.
They seemed to have a great chance when Jose Fonte blocked Emmanuel Riviere’s shot in the box with his arm, but referee Robert Madley somehow didn’t see it that way.
Saints move back atop Manchester United for third, and are five back of No. 2 Manchester City. Newcastle sit in 11th place with 27 points.
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Newcastle controlled the early goings but Fraser Forster and his Saints defenders stayed in responsible positions to limit the threat.
What was Tim Krul doing on Southampton’s first goal? Graziano Pelle slipped a through ball to Elia, who was closely marked and hit a shot from a tight angle that someone beat the Dutchman. It was Southampton’s first attempt at goal.
James Ward-Prowse hit a very dangerous free kick in the 25th minute, and Jose Fonte rose to head it just over the goal.
Then Gouffran found the equalizer when a mix-up between former Newcastle keeper Forster and his two center backs pushed a clearing attempt off the Newcastle attacker and into the Southampton goal.
Ayoze Perez nearly scored a stunner on a 40-yard ping from Remy Cabella, but his half-volley spun just past the post from across the six.
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The second half saw a few chances for each side in the first 15 minutes. And right after Gouffran headed a Massadio Haidara cross wide, Southampton countered with Elia’s second.
Shane Long nodded the ball over the top of the midfield, and Elia’s shot deflected off Daryl Janmaat and past Krul to make it 2-1.
Newcastle kept pressing for an equalizer, and missed several big chances including a horribly-missed free header from Paul Dummett that had pundits and coaches alike wondering what the player was trying to accomplish.
Pelle flashed a header off the crossbar, just missing a chance to put the game to bed in the 78th minute. Cabella whiffed on an open look in the six during stoppage time.
That’s when controversy struck, as Madley didn’t see Fonte block a shot — from 10 yards away — with his forearm.
Newcastle United: Krul; Janmaat, Coloccini, Dummett (Williamson, 80′), Haidara; Sissoko, Anita (Riviere, 69′), Colback; Cabella, Perez, Gouffran (Ameobi, 69′)
Goal: Gouffran (30′)
Southampton: Forster, Clyne, Fonte, Gardos, Bertrand, Reed, S. Davis, Ward-Prowse (Cork, 60′), Tadić (Long, 60′), Elia (Targett, 82′), Pellè
Goals: Elia (14′, 62′)