Ayoze Perez hat-trick downs Saints
St James' Park, Premier League - Newcastle United 3 (Pérez 27, 31, 86) Southampton 1 (Lemina, 59)
A win for Southampton would have gone a long way to keeping them up, while Newcastle needed a victory to be almost certain of safety.
It was Newcastle who took the lead, when Perez was released following slack Southampton passing in their own half, and the Spaniard drilled low into the far corner. The goal came shortly after Newcastle had a coach sent off for remonstrating too fiercely following a decision to book James Ward-Prowse for a cynical foul on Miguel Almiron, with Newcastle demanding a red.
Minutes later, Perez made it two - his ninth Premier League goal of the season - after yet more Southampton mistakes.
In the second half, Jonathan Lemina scored a brilliant long-range effort to halve the deficit, and Miguel Almiron left on the hour with a hamstring injury, giving Southampton the upper hand.
The home side were only sure of the three points when Perez completed his hat-trick with four minutes of normal time remaining, almost definitely securing another season in the Premier League for Mike Ashley, but whether or not either he and Rafael Benitez will still be there for another campaign is unclear.
Newcastle United manager \ head coach Rafael Benitez and Ayoze Perez of Newcastle United at full time of the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Southampton FC at St. James Park on April 20, 2019 in Newcastle upon Tyne, United KingdomGetty Images
Will Rafael Benitez stay on? He has proven his worth yet again for Newcastle, and this time there is talk of him being given £50 million to spend in the market, plus what he raises from sales in the market. If Ashley wants to build a serious side in the top flight, he has a manager capable of doing it.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Ayoze Perez (Newcastle United): Perez has been tracked by some of the biggest teams in his career despite never making a move, and perhaps he has been held back by both a lack of ruthlessness, and relatively few chances. Today, he showed how his pace creates its own problems, and his calmness in front of goal won the match for his side.
Ayoze Perez of Newcastle United (17) celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Southampton FC at St. James Park on April 20, 2019 in Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom.Getty Images
24’ - RED CARD - Newcastle are demanding a red card for Ward-Prowse, who caught Almiron in Newcastle’s half to stop a counter, and do so with such fervour that Benitez's assistant is told to do one. He's been sent away from the dugout.
27’ - GOAL! Newcastle 1-0 Southampton. Perez scores - Dubravka launches a long ball forward, Yoshida sells Hojbjerg short allowing Hayden to steal in before finding the striker. He drives towards goal and fires in a low shot to the bottom corner.
31’ - GOAL! Newcastle 2-0 Southampton. Perez scores - Rondon seizes on a loose ball on the left, he teases the defender as he approaches the box, and pings in a cross to the back post for Perez's late slide, and he directs it past Gunn. Make that three in two.
55’ - KI SHOT - Almiron finds Ritchie,who plays it inside for Ki and he skids in a great shot that beats Gunn, and crashes against the post and back out.
59’ - GOAL! Newcastle 2-1 Southampton. Lemina scores - Redmond attacks down the right, looks up to his left and plays it inside for Lemina's run towards goal, and from outside the box he curls in a great effort that gives Dubravka no chance.
86’ - GOAL! Newcastle 3-1 Southampton. Perez scores - A cross from the right from Diame is headed into the air, Ritchie dives towards it, into the path of Perez, who diverts it out of the path of Gunn's dive, and that should win the game for Newcastle.
- This was Newcastle’s sixth home Premier League win of 2019 – only Man City (8) and Arsenal (7) have won more.
- Southampton have lost three of their last four away Premier League games (W1 D0 L3), having lost just one of their first four away matches under Ralph Hasenhüttl (W2 D2 L1).
- Ayoze Perez’s hat-trick was Newcastle’s first in the Premier League since October 2015, when Georginio Wijnaldum scored four times against Norwich City.
- Ayoze Perez has scored 10 Premier League goals this season – his best tally in a single top-flight season for Newcastle United.
- Newcastle’s Ayoze Perez has scored seven goals in his last seven Premier League appearances at St. James’ Park.
- Salomón Rondón has been involved in more Premier League goals than any other Newcastle player this season (15 – 9 goals, 6 assists).
- Southampton goalkeeper Angus Gunn conceded a Premier League hat-trick 25 years and 11 days after his father Bryan Gunn conceded one in the Premier League against Southampton in April 1994, with Matt Le Tissier scoring a treble for the Saints that day.
- Southampton have scored 12 Premier League goals from outside the box this season, a joint high along with Man City and Spurs.