Southampton registered their first Premier League clean sheet after convincingly beating Newcastle at St Mary’s.
The Saints made it back-to-back wins for the first time this season to lift themselves out of the relegation zone and they now stand just three points behind the beleaguered Magpies in the table.
Alan Pardew, returning to his old club for the first time since being dismissed in August 2010, saw his side turn in another listless display on the South Coast as they suffered a third league defeat on the bounce.
The visitors were on the back foot from the outset and had Tim Krul to thank for keeping out a 25-yard free-kick from Gaston Ramirez before he thwarted Jason Puncheon with a fine block.
Nigel Adkins’ men continued to press and went even closer to breaking the deadlock only to see Rickie Lambert’s dead ball strike slam off the crossbar. It wasn’t until 10 minutes before half time that their pressure was finally rewarded with Newcastle the architects of their own downfall.
A poor clearance from Krul was seized upon by Nathaniel Clyne, whose long range effort was unconvincingly headed away by Mike Williamson into the path of Ramirez and his low cross was turned home by Adam Lallana.
Pardew rallied his side at the break and Vurnon Anita came closest to an equaliser but couldn’t find the telling finish to beat Paulo Gazzaniga when clean through on goal.
That miss was duly punished by Ramirez on the hour mark as he stabbed the ball home from close range after Krul had spilled a low cross from Puncheon, who saw a fierce effort cannon back off the post soon after,
Jose Fonte was also denied by the woodwork, his header crashing against the bar, before Gazzaniga stooped low to keep out a powerful header from Davide Santon.