29/03/2014: Saints 4-0 Newcastle

Saints put Newcastle to the sword with an emphatic display at St Marys. Mauricio Pochettino's men were superior in every department and dominated from start to finish. The win lifts Saints to 8th, two points above Newcastle.

Saints found it incredibly easy to play intricate passes through the Newcastle back four throughout the first half. The front three of Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana and Jay Rodriguez stood out from the off. Lambert's vision and range of passing was first class. Newcastle couldn't get near Lallana when he had the ball, and Rodriguez kept getting into great goal-scoring positions. The only thing that was missing from Saints' early play was a goal.

Newcastle's side netting took quite a battering early on. James Ward-Prowse and Rodriguez twice shot just wide of the near post. Toon keeper Rob Elliot was keeping Saints out almost single-handedly, with a string of good saves. Lambert tested him a couple of times. Jack Cork had a shot deflected wide from distance. It was all one-way traffic. Newcastle showed absolutely no urgency on the break and barely got within shooting distance. On 43 minutes Lambert headed a deep ball across goal for Rodriguez, who had his shot palmed away by Elliot. The elusive goal finally arrived in the final minute of the first-half. A perfectly weighted ball over the top from Steven Davis played in Lambert on the right. He advanced into the box before squaring for Rodriguez, who had a fairly simple finish.

Newcastle made a double substitution at half-time, with Davide Santon and Luuk De Jong coming on for Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa and Hatem Ben Arfa. It made little difference early on, with Saints adding a second in the 49th minute. Lallana dribbled past a couple of players on the right before crossing for Lambert at the back post. The centre-forward took a touch before smashing into the roof of the net.

Newcastle did assert themselves on the midfield slightly more after the second goal, but still offered little in the way of an attacking threat. Moussa Sissoko flashed a dangerous looking ball across goal, and there was another goal-mouth scramble later on, but that was about it. The game experienced a bit of a lull during the middle of the second-half, with several breaks in play due to injuries. Calum Chambers and Luke Shaw were two of the players to go down, but both were fine to carry on.

Saints soon stepped it up again, and by 70 it was 3-0. Lallana took control of the ball on the right about 35 yards out, before driving forward. He tried his luck from 25 yards, and hit the top corner of the net. The slight deflection the ball took on the way towards goal in no way detracted from what was a fine individual piece of play from Lallana. Saints continued to steam forward. Ward-Prowse had a great opening, but didn't quite get enough power in his shot, before firing in a second effort a few moments later. Rodriguez also hit the post, but the forward would eventually get his second goal on 89. Substitute Gaston Ramirez played a beautiful pass on the half-way line over the top of the Newcastle defence, and in for Rodriguez, who let the ball bounce before cutting back inside and blasting through the unfortunate Elliot.

An incredible display from Saints, quite possibly the best of the season. It's performances like that which make you realise how talented this current group of players is. Once again the forwards really stood out, but the understanding and fluency displayed by the whole team really is a joy to watch. For whatever its worth, Saints must now be huge favourites to pip a disinterested looking Newcastle side to 8th spot. Anything else is probably beyond us now, but the long term prospects are very good. If Saints can keep this team together there's no reason why they can't progress even further than they have done already.

Attendance: 31,360 (2,187 Newcastle fans)

Match Ratings:

Boruc: 6. Didn't really have a lot to do. Kicking a bit off at times

Chambers: 7. Got beaten far too easily on more than one occasion by Massadio Haidara, but made up for most of his mistakes, and looked comfortable after the first quarter hour or so

Fonte: 7. Didn't let anything get past him. Another competent outing

Lovren: 7. Showed no signs of nerves after last week's nightmare display. Dealt with everything with ease

Shaw: 7. A bit sloppy for a brief period just after half-time, but overall another good defensive display

Cork: 7. Not the hardest game he's had this season by a long shot, but a solid performance nonetheless

Ward-Prowse: 7. Kept things ticking and always well positioned. Made a couple of well-timed runs into the box, and slightly unfortunate not to score

Davis: 7. Energy and vision in Newcastle's half excellent

Lambert: 8. Such clever footwork. Created chance after chance in the first half. Took his goal very well too. Tiring slightly in the second half, but still a big display

Lallana: 9. One of the Premier League's leading performers. Skill was a joy to watch. Opened up so much space with his clever footwork

Rodriguez: 9. Movement incredible. Always in the right place at the right time. Scored two and unlucky not to get a few more

Substitutes:

Schneiderlin: 6. Slotted in pretty well, further energising an already dynamic midfield

Ramirez: Another eye-catching cameo. Gorgeous pass for the fourth goal

Gallagher: A few good touches, but not on for long enough to make much of an impression