Newcastle United and Southampton played to an entertaining 2-2 English Premier League draw on Sunday at St James’ Park to kick off the new season. Steve McLaren’s men played with a confidence not seen during the latter stages of the previous campaign while the Saints will take a point away from home to start off. The Tyneside club might have been in front in the first five minutes after Vurnon Anita played in Moussa Sissoko who went on a long run into the box before squaring for new signing Georginio Wijnaldum whose tame effort was easily snuffed out by Steven Davis who did well to get back.
In a high-tempo start to the match both sides had several opportunities to open the scoring but to no avail. Cedric’s third foul in 19 minutes resulted in Massadio Haidara going down and the Portuguese was given a talking to by the man in charge after having already been shown yellow. McLaren might wonder about Wijnaldum’s ability to deliver crosses from free kicks however as the Dutchman flattered to deceive for a third time as the visitors easily cleared the danger.
The south coast club was in front in the 25th minute when Graziano Pelle leaped high to head into the bottom corner of the far post unopposed by Chancel Mbemba and Daryl Janmaat who stood still either side of the Italian. Newcastle continued searching for an opening and it was Papiss Cisse who poached the equaliser three minutes before half-time after Jack Colback cleverly passed to Haidara from a corner whose cross was just beyond the reach of Maarten Stekelenburg and the Senegalese chested home to level matters going into the break.
It took just 90 second half seconds for Krul to stick his leg out while going down the wrong way to deny Maya Yoshida’s header. Football can be a cruel game and while the away side were still wondering how they were not leading it was in fact to 2-1 to the Magpies. On the counter-attack from the corner Cisse chipped past the Southampton defence and Gabriel Obertan sprinted down the right flank to cross to Wijnaldum, who headed home from the edge of the six-yard box.
Anita was stretchered off in the 67th minute with an apparent concussion and was replaced by Cheick Tiote. In the 75th minute Aleksandar Mitrovic was introduced by the Toon to replace Cisse. The Serbian striker’s first contribution was a reckless lunge that earned him a place in the ref’s book.
In the 79th minute it was all square again thanks to a Shane Long header. Tadic’s cross from the left wing found Long who out-jumped Janmaat some eight yards out at the far post. Wijnaldum was off and Siem De Jong was sent on by McLaren as the Tynesiders looked to take back the match in the final 10 minutes.
Mane would run almost 50 yards to go untouched by the hosts’ defence but could not finish after entering the box deep into added time. Ultimately the two sides settled for an opening day draw, which on the balance of play seemed the fairest outcome.