Match-winner Eljero Elia has thanked Southampton boss Ronald Koeman for handing him a chance to prove himself all over again.
The 27-year-old Dutchman played in the 2010 World Cup final for Holland, but has rather lost his way since having failed to impress in two spells in Germany with Hamburg and Werder Bremen, and landing himself in trouble with a speeding offence and a social media storm.
However, Koeman has given his compatriot an opportunity to rebuild his career on loan from Bremen, and Elia rewarded him in short order at Newcastle on Sunday evening when he scored both goals in a 2-1 victory which propelled the Saints back into third place in the Barclays Premier League table.
The winger told Southampton’s official website, www.saintsfc.co.uk: “The manager gave me the chance to play for Southampton. He was the only one who believed in me and everybody around was looking at what was going to happen.
“I said I only want to play football. I’m never happy. I want to have success, I want to continue more and more and more. It’s up to me. I want to show everyone what I can do.
“When somebody believes in me, it’s like an effect. He gives you trust, he wants you to have success and you go and fight for him, and you fight for the club, you fight for your team-mates.
“From the first moment, my team-mates helped me with everything, and I am very happy to play for Southampton.”
Elia’s contribution at St James’ Park proved decisive at the end of a gruelling week which saw his side win three times on the road, at Manchester United and Newcastle in the league either side of an FA Cup third round replay victory at Ipswich.
He said: “First we win against Manchester United, then Ipswich Town and now Newcastle United. It’s a very good week.”
The visitors took a 14th-minute lead somewhat against the run of play and for all the good football they play, it came courtesy of some route one stuff.
Striker Graziano Pelle, who produced another master-class in the art of playing as a lone striker, headed down Jose Fonte’s long ball to James Ward-Prowse, whose slide-rule pass allowed Elia to thump a right-foot shot home despite the best efforts of covering full-back Daryl Janmaat and keeper Tim Krul, who will not have been happy at the way he allowed the ball through him.
But Newcastle were level, and deservedly so, within 15 minutes, although they were grateful for a huge slice of luck.
Defender Florin Gardos got to Remy Cabella’s floated pass into the box ahead of Yoan Gouffran, but then blasted his clearance against the Frenchman’s shins and saw the ball sail past keeper Fraser Forster and into the net.
Gouffran, whose last goal came on Boxing Day 2013, told the club’s official website, nufc TV: “I was happy when I scored. It was a lucky goal, but it’s a goal, but I am disappointed because we lost.
“I was sad not to score [for more than a year] and I hope it’s not the last - and I don’t have to wait a year to score again.”
However, despite dominating possession for long periods thereafter, the home side were unable to make it count and fell behind for a second time with 62 minutes gone in depressingly similar fashion.
Substitute Shane Long climbed highest to flick on a long ball and Elia burst between Fabricio Coloccini and Janmaat to stab a shot past Krul with the help of a deflection off the Dutchman.
Pelle might have extended his side’s lead with a powerful header which came back off the crossbar, but the Magpies had strong appeals for a stoppage-time penalty waved away by referee Robert Madley after substitute Emmanuel Riviere’s shot appeared to hit Fonte’s hand.
Gouffran said: “We are disappointed because we played well, and we lost and we conceded two silly goals. It was too easy to concede the two goals. We deserved more today, maybe a win.”
Newcastle headed off to Dubai on a mid-season break on Sunday with the search for a replacement for manager Alan Pardew still ongoing. The Magpies have not won in four matches since his departure.