A Graziano Pellè-inspired Southampton recorded a second successive Premier League win on Saturday afternoon against a woeful Newcastle United side, winning 4-0 thanks to a brace from the Italian as well as goals from Jack Cork and in-form midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin.
Although Visa issues prevented prolific winger Sadio Mané from making his Saints debut, Southampton didn’t prove short of firepower at any point, grabbing the lead after just six minutes, as Ryan Bertrand looped a cross towards the head of Pellè, whose powerful header beat Tim Krul all ends up; a lead that wasn’t to be relinquished. Pellè doubled not long later after excellent play by Dušan Tadic, who threaded a neat ball into the ex-Feyenoord man. This all but assured three points for Southampton after twenty minutes of play, but the Saints carried on playing some sparkling football, carving out chance after chance.
Meanwhile, Forster had a remarkably quiet game; the England number two made a stunning stop from a Moussa Sissoko drive but otherwise had little else to do. After a slight lull in the game, and half time, Southampton kicked on and increased their lead as Jack Cork rounded Tim Krul, before, minutes from time, Morgan Schneiderlin netted his third goal of the season with an excellent curling effort from the edge of the box. It was a beautiful goal to wrap up an emphatic performance, a performance which will more than distance the Saints from the relegation fight both on the table, and on the lips of pundits and supporters alike.
Branded as a “Carnival” day out by the club prior to kick-off, with under-11s going free with a paying adult, the performance should have won Southampton some new fans, but equally pertinent on Saturday afternoon was the return of former Saint Franny Benali, whose charity run – named “Benali’s Big Run” – ended at St Mary’s at half time.
Benali appeared 389 times for Southampton between 1988 and 2004 before having a stint with local non-league side Eastleigh. The full-back ran 1000 miles around the entire country for Cancer Research UK over three weeks, passing all twenty Premier League grounds in the process. An excellent achievement.
Overall, then, a great day for Saints of all generations, past and present – and with games against Swansea and QPR on the horizon, it appears that Southampton are hitting form at the right time.