Newcastle United’s extended their unbeaten Premier League run to nine matches after coming from behind to beat Southampton.
Eddie Howe’s side fell behind on 25 minutes to Stuart Armstrong’s header but Chris Wood almost immediately hit back for United.
Then, Bruno Guimaraes’ stunning goal shortly after half-time wrapped up another excellent three points for the Magpies.
Here’s our writer Jordan Cronin’s analysis from the win on the South Coast:
Bitter Southampton but Newcastle have the last laugh
This was a grudge match before it even kicked off following Ralph Hasenhuttl’s relentless moaning.
Rewind back to when the game was initially postponed in January due a Covid-19 outbreak in the United camp, the Saints boss did not take too kindly to the decision.
Premier League rules stated if a club cannot field 13 outfield players and a goalkeeper from its squad list or its ‘appropriately experienced’ under-21 players due to COVID-19 infections, isolation and other injuries and illnesses, the match should be postponed.
Newcastle followed the guidelines, as did several other Premier League clubs, but Ralph wasn’t having it and comically said it was “really not fair” that new signings would be able to play in the re-arranged fixture.
So, it was more than fitting that £25million arrival Chris Wood and £35m signing Bruno Guimaraes were the players to find the scoresheet in a 2-1 win St Mary’s,
If Ralph’s tears weren’t enough, Newcastle certainly had the last laugh.
It didn’t take an expert to work out the theme of the Saints DJ’s half-time playlist as ‘Money Talks’, ‘Dirty Cash’, ‘Loaded’, ‘Price Tag’, ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’ and ‘Money, Money, Money’ belled out.
A petty move, but a fine example of just how much United, under new -found wealth, got under the skin of their South Coast counterparts.
Chris Wood off the mark
Wood ended his eight-match wait for his first Newcastle goal following his January move from Burnley after meeting Jonjo Shelvey’s in-swinging cross on 31 minutes.
It was nothing more than Wood deserved, with his selfless displays quite often going under the radar. After all, strikers are judged on goal.
But it speaks volumes that Newcastle are yet to lose since the New Zealand international joined, so opening his United account will surely silence any critics.
In footage captured by Newcastle’s media team, it was a touching moment to see Wood handed a round of applause from his teammates as he entered the dressing room at full-time.
And Howe was equally delighted. He said: “For him personally, it (the goal) was hugely important. For me, much less so, as I have seen what he has done for the team.
“He has been a huge player for us. He gives us an ability to build attacks in a different way. He needed that goal. It was a good header from a difficult angle.
“You could see from his celebration that it meant a lot to him. And hopefully, it’s the first of many.”
Newcastle fans sing about Bruno and his magic hat and what he pulled out of at Southampton was mind-boggling.
As Matt Targett’s corner was headed back by Dan Burn, Bruno outrageously backheeled home on the volley on 52 minutes.
What a way to mark your full debut and announce yourself to Newcastle supporters.
The Brazilian had waited patiently for his first start following five previous cameo appearances from the bench but was called upon from the off in Joelinton’s absence.
Following a bit of rocky start from the team, Howe’s tweaked his formation to play Bruno in a deeper midfield alongside Jonjo Shelvey.
Admittedly, it didn’t go perfectly with Bruno still adapting to life in England, hence why went off with cramp on 67 minutes, but he certainly showed the makings of a top-class player.
Winning without FOUR key players
It was confirmed before kick-off at St Mary’ that Allan Saint-Maximin (illness) and Joelinton would miss the game.
Howe explained: “Joelinton has also been managing a groin problem and he’s come off in a couple of games with it.
He’s gone down injured with always managed to carry on but yesterday (Wednesday) I think the pain got too much for him.
“We don’t anticipate that keeping him out too long but it was enough for this game. We know in the games we have to come we wanted to protect him.
“Maxi’s ill. We hope that’s not a long-term thing for him. I don’t know if he’ll be back for Chelsea or not.”
The fact that Newcastle dealt without the pair, plus Kieran Trippier and Callum Wilson, alone shows how Newcastle have come under Howe.
Premier League safety surely secured
Fulham set the benchmark, admittedly a low one, with 29 points keeping you in the Premier League last season.
And while the total is likely to be slightly higher this time around, it’s impossible to see Newcastle, on 31 points, being relegated now.
Nine games unbeaten. Six wins from seven. Ten points above the drop zone - everything but official confirmation says United will be top-flight club next season.
Quite remarkablu, this is Newcastle’s best run after 27 Premier League matches since being promoted back to the top flight in 2017.
Considering the club had its worst-ever start to a Premier League season, that’s some incredible job Howe.