Southampton pushed Newcastle United a step closer to relegation with a 3-1 win at St Mary’s Stadium.
It took Southampton four minutes to open the scoring as Shane Long was allowed the space to break into the area and find the net with a confident low finish.
Newcastle struggled to threaten an equaliser and, after clinging on for much of the first half, fell 2-0 behind when Graziano Pelle bent an effort into the bottom-right corner.
A comfortable victory for the home side was wrapped up 10 minutes into the second half courtesy of Victor Wanyama’s first goal of the season.
A fine solo goal from Andros Townsend was a mere consolation for Newcastle who have six matches to overhaul the six-point gap to Norwich.
Long needed less than five minutes to break the deadlock, picking up the ball in midfield and easing into the Newcastle box before slotting into the bottom-left corner.
Southampton dominated play for almost all the first half but struggled to test Karl Darlow.
Eventually Pelle capitalised on poor Newcastle defending with a curling low effort in the 38th minute. Daryl Janmaat’s slip allowed Wanyama to collect Sadio Mane’s pass and break down the left and cross, with Long teeing up Pelle, who had time to recover his composure after falling over, to pick his spot and double the lead.
Janmaat limped off through injury to be replaced by Siem de Jong. Steven Taylor was taken off after half-time with Jamaal Lascelles coming on in his place, but the change failed to prevent Southampton from extending their lead.
Slack Newcastle marking allowed Mane to steal a march from a short corner, with Wanyama firing in the rebound after Jose Fonte’s effort from the Senegal international’s low delivery had been blocked by Darlow.
Ayoze Perez and Townsend forced Fraser Forster in the Southampton goal into action before the latter cut in from the right and found the top-left corner with a fierce 65th-minute strike that ultimately mattered little.
Southampton manager Ronald Koeman: “The performance was not everything I wanted, because I think in the second half, we had to score more goals. We created good chances. The key to winning was how we started, with a good spirit and a high tempo.
“It’s all about how you start the game. We know the situation of Newcastle. If you give them the belief at the start, it can be very dangerous. A fast goal gave us the boost to continue. There was good movement and good goals.
“Normally at 3-0 up, you win the game. It’s important to keep the belief. We had to score more goals, because there were enough chances to score more than three.
The win left Saints in seventh place, two points behind West Ham United, while Newcastle are second from bottom, six points adrift of safety.