MX23RW : Thursday, April 25 12:14:22| >> :600:408950:408950:
Apr 20, 2019 at 5.30pm UK at ​St James' Park
Attendance: 52,191
NewcastleNewcastle United
3-1
Southampton
Perez (27', 31', 86')
FT(HT: 2-0)
Lemina (59')

Result: Ayoze Perez hat-trick fires Newcastle past 40-point mark

Result: Ayoze Perez hat-trick fires Newcastle past 40-point mark
© Reuters
The Spaniard claimed the Magpies' first top-flight hat-trick since October 2015.

Ayoze Perez's hat-trick all but guaranteed Premier League safety as Newcastle survived a second-half fightback by Southampton to win 3-1.

The Spaniard's quick-fire first-half brace, which came minutes after the Saints' James Ward-Prowse had escaped a red card for a cynical challenge on Miguel Almiron, looked to have put the Magpies in complete control.

However, Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl made a double change at the break and one of the newcomers, Mario Lemina, pulled one back before Perez settled it four minutes from time with his 11th goal of the season.

Rafael Benitez's men, who have won six of their last seven home games in the league to go 10 points clear of Cardiff, were decidedly ordinary for much of the second half, but ultimately emerged with a huge victory as the bulk of the crowd at St James' Park pleaded with the manager to sign a new contract.

In a hectic opening to the game, it took a fine block by Matt Ritchie to deny Ward-Prowse after Nathan Redmond had picked him out with a 22nd-minute pull-back.

But last man Ward-Prowse was fortunate to stay on the pitch seconds later when he blocked Almiron on halfway as he attempted to race clear with support. Referee Anthony Taylor produced only a yellow card to the fury of Benitez and his players.

The Magpies' anger was soothed within four minutes when Perez received the ball inside the box and patiently awaited his moment before dispatching his shot past the helpless Angus Gunn.

Perez had to wait just four minutes to double his tally when Salomon Rondon's selfless run down the left gave him the opportunity to cross to the far post, where the Spaniard arrived on cue to beat the keeper from close range.

Almiron, still awaiting his first goal for the Magpies, scuffed a shot 41st-minute straight at Gunn after Rondon had forced Maya Yoshida into an error, although Paul Dummett had to make a telling intervention on the stroke of half-time to repel Josh Sims' goal-bound effort.

Hasenhuttl made his move at half-time when he sent on Lemina and Stuart Armstrong for Jack Stephens and Sims, and the visitors might have been back in it within three minutes when Yoshida glanced a header wide from Ward-Prowse's corner.

However, Ki Sung-yueng was unfortunate not to extend Newcastle's lead when his skidding 55th-minute strike evaded Gunn's dive, but came back off the foot of a post.

The Saints were enjoying their best spell, with Lemina giving them a foothold in midfield, and it was he who reduced the deficit four minutes later with an accomplished right-foot finish.

The Magpies wobbled as Southampton sensed an opportunity and Yoshida headed over from Redmond's 66th-minute cross when he might have done better.

Isaac Hayden would have calmed the nerves with a stinging 70th-minute volley but for a stunning save from Gunn, but Perez finally did so when he flicked Ritchie's header home to claim the first Premier League hat-trick for the club since Georginio Wijnaldum scored four against Norwich in October 2015.

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Ralph Hasenhuttl in charge of Southampton on February 2, 2019
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Manchester CityMan City35292489226789
2Liverpool35277179205988
3Tottenham HotspurSpurs352311165353070
4Chelsea35207859382167
5Arsenal35206969462366
6Manchester UnitedMan Utd35197963501364
7Wolverhampton WanderersWolves35149124443151
8Watford35148135050050
9Everton35147145044649
10Leicester CityLeicester35146154847148
11West Ham UnitedWest Ham35127164454-1043
12Crystal Palace35126174348-542
13Newcastle UnitedNewcastle35118163544-941
14Bournemouth35125184962-1341
15Burnley35117174462-1840
16Southampton35910164158-1737
17Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton3597193254-2234
18Cardiff CityCardiff3594223065-3531
RFulham3565243376-4323
RHuddersfield TownHuddersfield3535272069-4914

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