Magpies movie six points clear of the drop zone after crucial win.
Newcastle United beat fellow relegation strugglers Southampton 4-2 at St James’ Park on Sunday to ease their fears of the drop.
Newcastle rebranded the day ‘French Day’ in honour of the swelling numbers of French players in their ranks and there was a distinct Gallic feel to the hosts’ performance, as they came from behind to sink their relegation rivals.
Southampton’s French midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin broke the deadlock in the third minute, but Moussa Sissoko equalised and a brilliant goal from Papiss Cisse put Newcastle ahead at the break.
The visitors responded through Rickie Lambert but another Frenchman, Yohan Cabaye, restored Newcastle’s lead from the penalty spot before a Jos Hooiveld own goal put the game beyond Mauricio Pochettino’s side.
It was only Southampton’s second defeat in 10 games, but left them just three points above the bottom three in 16th place.
Newcastle made seven changes to the team that beat Metalist Kharkiv in the Europa League on Thursday but the returning big guns could not prevent Southampton from taking an early lead.
A high ball into the Newcastle box from Jack Cork was headed down by Lambert and Schneiderlin swivelled to send a half-volley into the bottom-left corner from 10 yards.
In response, Newcastle had a penalty appeal for handball against Hooiveld dismissed, while Southampton goalkeeper Artur Boruc had to tip a low drive from Sissoko around the post.
Cisse then had a shot blocked after Mathieu Debuchy’s cut-back from the Newcastle right was mishit by Yoan Gouffran.
The visitors were doing their best to resist but in the 32nd minute, Newcastle’s persistence paid off.
Gouffran was the instigator, weaving into the box from the left and dispatching a shot that Boruc could only parry to France midfielder Sissoko, who converted into an empty net from inside the six-yard box.
Ten minutes later, the hosts took the lead in memorable style through Cisse.
Newcastle goalkeeper Rob Elliot, making his first league start, sent a long punt down the pitch and when the ball fell to Cisse, the Senegalese striker lobbed Boruc with a ferocious half-volley from 25 yards.
Lambert saw a free-kick saved shortly after half-time but moments later he claimed an equaliser, sweeping a low shot past Elliot from Adam Lallana’s right-wing centre.
Back came Newcastle, however, and in the 67th minute they restored their advantage, with Cabaye wrong-footing Boruc from the penalty spot after a handball by Danny Fox.
The hosts’ victory was confirmed by a comic own goal in the 79th minute, with Fox’s clearance cannoning into his own goal via the back of the unfortunate Hooiveld.