Gabbiadini brace cancels out Saints' awful defensive sins
Southampton 2 Newcastle 2
It was Rafael Benitez who gave Mauricio Pellegrino his first big opportunity in coaching and before this thrilling draw the Southampton manager revealed that he was looking forward to inviting his old mentor "for a coke after the game".
After watching the defensive horror show that ensued, both men could be forgiven for reaching for something a little stronger.
Southampton twice fell behind and had Manolo Gabbiadini to thank for twice bailing them out of trouble, with both defences stumbling around like drunks for much of this haphazard mid-table clash.
Defensive errors were to blame for all four of the goals.
Southampton goalkeeper Fraser Forster had a game to forget and should have prevented both Isaac Hayden and Ayoze Perez from hitting the back of the net, while Gabbiadini was criminally allowed to dribble the ball around virtually Newcastle's entire defence for his first, before Shane Long won the soft penalty that lead to his second.
Both teams could have won it in the final minutes, although a calf injury to Dwight Gayle once Benitez had used up his substitutes clearly limited Newcastle.
"We were expecting to use his pace but we played the last 10 minutes with 10 players," said Benitez. "The players had do everything for the team; they are doing a great job."
"I am disappointed because we could have won, but happy because of a point away.
"We are learning from every game - there were a couple of mistakes, but I cannot complain or blame my players. I am not surprised by where we are. The spirit is very good and everybody in the city is behind the team."
In contrast, Southampton are still waiting for any really tangible uplift following the decision to replace Claude Puel with Pellegrino. Their players even faced boos at half-time, although the applause that greeted the final whistle underlined how the jury is very much still out on the new man. (© Daily Telegraph, London)