Football: Newcastle edge closer to relegation

Southampton's Shane Long celebrates scoring their first goal.
Southampton's Shane Long celebrates scoring their first goal.PHOTO: REUTERS

SOUTHAMPTON, United Kingdom (AFP) - Rafael Benitez's Newcastle United moved closer to relegation from the Premier League with a 3-1 defeat at Southampton on Saturday which boosted the hosts' Europa League hopes.

The visitors were in disarray from the outset with Shane Long scoring the first after just four minutes following a long run through a non-existent Magpies defence.

And the Irish striker had a role in the second on 38 minutes when full-back Daryl Janmaat's comical slip allowed Graziano Pelle to score his fourth goal in as many games.

Kenyan midfielder Victor Wanyama got the third 10 minutes after the break, latching onto a rebound after Pelle's goal-bound effort was blocked.

There was a flicker of hope for Newcastle after 65 minutes when Andros Townsend pulled one back with the former Tottenham Hotspur winger cutting in with a powerful strike past Fraser Forster from 25 yards out.

But it was short-lived with the home side seeing most of the ball and Senegalese midfielder Sadio Mane and Jay Rodriguez both missing chances to add to Southampton's tally late on.

In the dying minutes Newcastle's Aleksandar Mitrovic fired into the net but was flagged offside, with the Magpies condemned to a sixth defeat in seven matches.

Benitez's side are now looking at a second relegation in eight seasons as they sit second from bottom, although their relegation rivals also suffered with Norwich City losing 1-0 at Crystal Palace and Aston Villa falling 2-1 at home against Bournemouth.

Sunderland, two points above Newcastle in the relegation zone, host title-chasing Leicester City on Sunday.

The win leaves Ronald Koeman's Southampton side just two points off sixth place, occupied by West Ham United.