Southampton 2 Newcastle 0: Adams and Armstrong plunder goals as ‘pirates’ go top for first time since 1988

RALPH HASENHUTTL’S pirates swashbuckled their way to the top of the league for the first time since 1988 – as they made Newcastle walk the plank.

Southampton’s charismatic boss had branded his side as ‘pirates’ in the way they are looking to plunder the wealthy elite on occasion this season.

Che Adams scored a superb volley to open the scoring

Saints were too good for Newcastle and could have scored more

And they looked a good bet to land some European qualification treasure this term as Che Adams and Stuart Armstrong fired them to the division’s summit.

Southampton’s last early-season title tilt in the top flight came 32 years ago when they won their first three games of the campaign.

Chris Nicholls’ side back then was full of characters, including madcap keeper John Burridge, three-time European Cup winner Jimmy Case and the three Wallace brothers, Rodney, Danny and Ray.

A baby-faced Matt Le Tissier was also cutting his senior pro teeth in that side, while an even younger Alan Shearer would join the party later than season.

Shearer would go on to become a Newcastle legend – but his old side and good mate Steve Bruce were well beaten here.

Were it not for the heroics of Karl Darlow, the score would have been far more convincing as Hasenhuttl’s men racked up their fifth win in six games.

Everyone in the ground got a fright just after kick-off when booming fireworks exploded if not directly above the stadium, then very close to it.

And it was Adams who provided a rocket of a volley to give the hosts an early lead.

Seconds after the striker was denied a screamer thanks to a smart save from Darlow, Miguel Almiron was caught messing around with the ball in front of his box.

Theo Walcott picked the dawdling Paraguayan’s pocket and whipped in a cross which Adams blasted past Darlow.

It was a devastating finish and one of a man high on confidence.

Having waited 30 games to break his Saints duck, now has seven in his last 15.

Those may not yet be Danny Ings numbers – or those of Callum Wilson since he joined Newcastle.

But they obviously mark a vast improvement and the exciting thing for Southampton supporters is the Leicester lad looks like he can kick on further.

Adams looked a threat throughout the first half, forcing another save from the alert Darlow with 12 minutes on the clock.

The goalscoring responsibility had fallen squarely on the 24-year-old’s broad shoulders following the news that talisman Ings would be out for up to six weeks with a knee injury.

And the way he caused Newcastle’s backline all manner of problems proved he was up for the challenge.

Bruce’s men were on the back foot for the most of the half but still always looked dangerous when the unpredictable Allan Saint-Maximin got on the ball.

Yet it was Sean Longstaff who wasted the visitors’ best chance of the half, nodding a Jamal Lewis cross right at Alex McCarthy.

Walcott, deployed up to in the crocked Ings’ absence, was a livewire with his pace and movement.

With the vocal Hasenhuttl conducting on the touchline with unrelenting instruction and encouragement, the Everton loanee raced in just before the break having been released by Moussa Djenepo’s clever backheel.

Southampton are looking back at the other 19 Prem clubs

Walcott cut back in and tried to find the far post – but his shot landed the wrong side of the post.

Hasenhuttl’s pirates looked to inflict more damage after the break as Newcastle’s backline came under heavy fire.

First, captain Jamal Lascelles was forced to clear off Jan Bednarek’s hooked shot off the line.

Then, seconds later, Oriol Romeu was denied a second stunning goal of the season when Darlow tipped his drive onto the crossbar.

The Spaniard had only eight goals to his name during across his decade-long career but had netted a wonderstrike in October’s 2-0 win over West Brom.

Hasenhuttl was demanding a penalty on the hour when Djenepo was blocked off by Jacob Murphy but Peter Bankes was not biting.

Darlow was again the Toon’s saviour again minutes later as the onslaught continued, repelling Bednarek’s header from James Ward-Prowse’s corner.

Saints had the chance to kill the game off once and for all in the final 15 minutes but Armstrong’s under-hit pass to Walcott allowed Lascelles to get a touch on the ball before cleaning out the ex-England forward.

Newcastle’s luck could only last so long though – and five minutes later it was all over.

Sean Longstaff was caught in possession on the edge of the area by Armstrong, who drilled low into the corner to send Saints’ soaring.

It may not last long, but for now, the Jolly Roger flag is flying high at the top of the Premier League.

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By: Tom Barclay
Title: Southampton 2 Newcastle 0: Adams and Armstrong plunder goals as ‘pirates’ go top for first time since 1988
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Published Date: Fri, 06 Nov 2020 22:20:34 +0000

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