The Sunday Telegraph - Sport

Saint-Maximin ends Newcastle goal drought

- By Tom Prentki at St Mary’s Stadium

Newcastle’s first goal in 438 minutes of Premier League football gave them a fourth away win of the season and one that ought to guarantee their top-flight status for another campaign.

Allan Saint-Maximin’s goal 11 minutes from time gave Steve Bruce’s side the win they deserved, though they had a fair bit of help in getting it. The video assistant referee intervened to send off Southampto­n’s Moussa Djenepo in the 28th minute, the key turning point in the game, and again to award Newcastle a penalty on the stroke of half-time, which Alex McCarthy saved brilliantl­y from Matt Ritchie.

“When you see the challenge, it’s a red card. When you see the penalty, it’s a penalty. I think that’s what VAR is for,” Bruce said. “Of course, we’ve had one or two go against ourselves but ultimately, when it’s the right decision, you can’t complain,” he added before paying tribute to the club’s fans.

“Flights cancelled, Flybe collapsing of course. We had 5,500 at West Brom on Tuesday. The effort to come here – god knows how they’re going to get home. They’ll have had a good week.”

It was a resilient and draining display from Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men, who played for so long at a disadvanta­ge but the bigger picture shows this is a fourth loss in five games.

“It was good that he was walking to the monitor to have a look. This is what I was asking for,” said Hasenhuttl of the red-card decision. “When you know about the last week then you can be sure it will take a lot of work in the next weeks to bring back the smile on his face,” he said referring to Djenepo, who returned from Africa this week following the death of his mother. “We will do everything to help him.”

It might take a while to bring back the smile to supporters also. Never before have the club lost nine home games in a Premier League season. Southampto­n’s record this season is 14 points from 15 games at St Mary’s.

With this win, Newcastle arrested a slide of their own, recording their first league win in seven, a run dating back to January.

Saint-Maximin’s goal was the telling moment but Newcastle could have been out of sight long before it. They missed a host of great chances early on, largely due to the heroics of McCarthy.

He pulled off an extraordin­ary triple save in the first half, denying Dwight Gayle from Jonjo Shelvey’s cross and then Miguel Almiron twice.

The turning point came as Djenepo was reaching for the ball, with no apparent malice, and caught Jamaal Lascelles on the ankle. Graham Scott issued a yellow card before going to the pitchside monitor for VAR’s advice. Having done so, he dismissed Djenepo.

Southampto­n suffered again when Chris Kavanagh intervened as the VAR and awarded Newcastle a penalty after Scott had seen no foul. Replays showed that Sofiane Boufal had nudged the ball clear with his shoulder. Ritchie struck his kick low and hard to McCarthy’s left but the keeper made an excellent save.

Saints emerged in a 4-4-1 formation in the second half with Danny Ings dropping back to left midfield. They were dogged, obdurate and restricted Newcastle to few chances.

They even created an excellent one of their own when Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg set up Shane Long, who shot over. Newcastle scored when Yan Valery had a poor touch off his chest and was outmuscled by Saint-Maximin, who poked the ball past McCarthy.

“Thirty-five points gives us a nice platform with nine games to go. People weren’t giving us a hope in hell of getting anywhere near that,” smiled Bruce.

 ??  ?? Head over heels: Newcastle United’s Allan Saint-Maximin shows his delight at scoring
Head over heels: Newcastle United’s Allan Saint-Maximin shows his delight at scoring
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