Soarez and Targett both returned after missing the European adventure so it was a different back line for the domestic opener at Newcastle – arguably a more distant destination than Arnhem! More surprising was the inclusion of Rodriguez in the starting line-up, mainly because Koeman (R) had said he wouldn’t be fit… but then again, Koeman (E) was in charge, with his brother recuperating in Holland after an achilles operation. Newcastle created the best early opportunity but Davis made a vital block and then Soarez’s persistence forced a save at the other end. Soarez was also involved in the opening goal, supplying the cross for Pellè to score with a towering header. An excellent Premier League debut, you may think, but “Cedric’s” defensive qualities are sadly lacking, as shown by an early yellow card for a rash challenge and a warning for something similar later in the half – he didn’t appear after the break, with replacement Martina looking less of a footballer but far more of a defender. Meanwhile there was plenty of action either side of the interval, starting with the home team’s equaliser. This was down to a Stekelenburg error, with the keeper failing to recover his position for a deflected cross as Cissé forced the ball in from close range. Saints could have been back in front before the break, and should have been immediately afterwards, but Yoshida’s header wasn’t decisive enough to beat Krul’s trailing leg. To away fans’ frustration, the resulting corner led to the Mags’ second goal when a naïve clearance by Targett enabled the dangerous Obertan to get away and cross for a fine headed goal by Wijnaldum – the one Dutchman we didn’t try to sign. It was the sort of situation Saints teams find difficult, but Long came on for Rodriguez and rescued a point with a header, thus exposing aerial weaknesses for the second time. In truth neither defence had a great afternoon, with Saints surviving a number of penalty appeals while Newcastle struggled continually with Mané’s pace. The Saints forward had two opportunities to win the game in added time, but he was first denied by a last ditch block and then shot narrowly wide with Krul beaten.
LSSC Man of the Match: Steven Davis, with his most effective game in a long while edging out Wanyama.