Callum Wilson came off the bench to score twice as Newcastle fought back to strengthen their claims on Champions League qualification and edge Southampton towards the trapdoor with a 3-1 win.
Left out of Eddie Howe’s starting line-up despite scoring twice at Everton on Thursday evening, the England striker produced the perfect response after his half-time introduction, cancelling out Stuart Armstrong’s first-half opener and then helping himself to a second after Theo Walcott’s own goal had given the Magpies the lead.
Wilson’s 14th and 15th goals of the season contributed to a fourth win of the campaign over the Saints and an eighth in nine Premier League outings, to keep Newcastle ahead of Manchester United in the race for the top four.
The visitors, who made more than a fist of the game before the break but were eventually overwhelmed, remain in dire trouble with games running out fast.
Howe’s men had exploded out of the starting blocks a week earlier to race into a 5-0 lead over Tottenham inside 21 madcap minutes, but this time around it was Southampton who mustered the first attempt on target within the first 60 seconds when goalkeeper Nick Pope had to get down well to collect Kyle Walker-Peters’ firm drive.
However, Anthony Gordon drilled a seventh-minute attempt into the side-netting after running on to Jacob Murphy’s through-ball and after Pope had beaten away Armstrong’s drive from a tight angle, saw Bruno Guimaraes volley wide after Alexander Isak had flicked on his cross.
Nevertheless, Southampton continued to enjoy extended periods of possession, with the link between James Ward-Prowse, Walker-Peters and Armstrong down the left proving fruitful and with the injured Sean Longstaff’s foraging and drive missing from the Magpies’ engine room, they were well in the game.
Joelinton glanced wide from Fabian Schar’s header back across goal as the pressure mounted, but to their credit the visitors held firm and attempted to counter-punch at every opportunity, albeit without the cutting edge required to do any real damage.
Murphy, who had swapped flanks with Gordon, curled an attempt over after cutting inside five minutes before the break, but it was the Saints who took the lead seconds later.
Guimaraes was caught in possession by Romeo Lavia on halfway and Carlos Alcaraz raced away before feeding Kamaldeen Sulemana to cross for Armstrong, who stabbed his side in front.
Howe’s response was to replace Gordon with Wilson at half-time and move Isak to a role wide on the left, although neither Sven Botman nor Wilson could make the most of Kieran Trippier’s 53rd-minute free-kick as it arced across goal amid an early onslaught.
But the two strikers combined to devastating effect within nine minutes as Wilson turned home Isak’s cross to level, and Southampton found themselves pinned back deep inside their own half and defending for dear life.
McCarthy tipped Wilson’s 68th-minute header over, and the former Bournemouth frontman thought he had done it again with 16 minutes remaining only for a VAR review to judge him offside.
The reprieve proved temporary as Newcastle flexed their muscles, Walcott unwittingly turning Botman’s flick past his own keeper before Wilson rounded McCarthy and fired gleefully home inside two minutes to secure the points.