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March 7 (Reuters) - Newcastle United leapfrogged Southampton in the Premier League standings and moved up to 13th with a 1-0 win at St Mary’s Stadium on Saturday, thanks to a solo second-half effort from French winger Allan Saint-Maximin.
It was Southampton’s ninth league loss at home and Ralph Hasenhuettl’s side struggled to get a foothold in the game after they were reduced to 10 men when winger Moussa Djenepo made a reckless challenge to get sent off in the 28th minute.
Djenepo was initially booked when he caught Isaac Hayden above the ankle but the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) advised referee Graham Scott to take a second look on the pitchside monitor, after which a red card was produced.
Southampton were nearly undone just before halftime when Sofiane Boufal used his upper arm to clear the ball inside the box, awarding Newcastle their first penalty of the season, but Alex McCarthy dived to his left to stop Matt Ritchie’s effort.
With Southampton a man down, it was down to McCarthy to deny Newcastle on numerous occasions — particularly Dwight Gayle who had three shots on target blocked — and the goalkeeper finished the first half with six saves.
“The chances we had in the first half-hour, then there is a triple save where the keeper makes three saves, when the penalty comes your way and you miss... You think ‘aye aye’ it’s one of those afternoons,” Newcastle boss Steve Bruce told the BBC.
“I think we deserved a chance, it was difficult with a team dropping deep. It was hard going but I think we deserved it. I do believe VAR was right, it’s a blatant penalty and a red card as he is over the top of the ball.”
McCarthy could do nothing when Saint-Maximin pressed Yan Valery, pinched the ball from his fellow Frenchman and then toe-poked it off the post for his second goal of the season in the 79th minute.
It was Newcastle’s first win in six league games going back to January and it pushed them eight points clear of the relegation zone.
“It was a really difficult game,” Saint-Maximin told Sky Sports. “The team played great against West Brom in the FA Cup (in midweek) and we have followed that up against Southampton.
“It’s difficult in the head when you get a lot of chances and don’t score. We kept going and I had one opportunity. We now have 35 points and that’s really good because our next game is at home.” (Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; editing by Clare Fallon)