Southampton moved out of the relegation zone with a fully deserved 2-0 win over a poor Newcastle United side at St Mary's Stadium.
Goals either side of half-time from Adam Lallana and Gaston Ramirez secured the points for Nigel Adkins's side, who are now unbeaten in three games.
Crucially Adkins has named an unchanged line-up for all those games, with record signing Ramirez in particular offering a new dimension to a side that had previously been struggling with the step-up to Premier League level.
However, injury-ravaged Newcastle are dropping like a stone as they suffered their third consecutive Premier League loss within the same season for the first time in over four years.
In truth they were lucky to only lose by two as they were completely outclassed by a Southampton side who hit the woodwork three times and also had a goal from substitute Jay Rodriguez wrongly flagged for offside just before the end.
The match was always lively but it was not until the half-hour mark that Southampton started to create meaningful chances as they twice went close before finally breaking the deadlock.
First Ramirez and Rickie Lambert combined down the left which allowed the latter to cut inside and check a ball back to Jason Puncheon just to the left of the penalty spot. Puncheon fired low with his left foot and should have scored but Tim Krul made an excellent save with his feet.
A minute later Lambert curled a free-kick onto the crossbar from 35 yards out just right of central. Earlier, Ramirez had forced Krul into a save from a similar position.
Those chances should have acted as a warning sign for Newcastle but Southampton capped the spell of dominance with a goal in the 34th minute.
The goal came after Krul was forced to race out of his goal and play sweeper; spotting the keeper off his line, Nathaniel Clyne tried a long range shot that Mike Williamson stopped with a diving header. However, the ball then fell to Ramirez who showed great awareness to check it back for Lallana to finish with Krul unable to recover his position in time to save.
Southampton were looking to bomb forward at any opportunity with the wandering Ramirez often at the hub of things, and a toothless Newcastle were lucky to reach the half-time whistle just the one goal behind.
Newcastle were playing a Premier League match for the first time this season without the injured Hatem Ben Arfa, and his creativity was sorely missed.
They brought on Sammy Ameobi for Shane Ferguson at the break and the early signs were positive. Vurnon Anita should have equalised when put through on 55 minutes but he couldn't quite get the ball from under his feet quick enough and Paulo Gazzaniga made a good save.
Southampton took charge on the hour mark though as Ramirez poked in from close range for a goal his performance deserved after Krul had poorly spilled a low cross from Puncheon who had linked up well with Lallana.
The Lallana-Ramirez-Puncheon trio combined again in the 71st minute only for Puncheon to smash Ramirez's clever ball off the near post.
A minute later, Newcastle had their last real chance to get back into but Gazzaniga made a stunning low save to deny Davide Santon's fine header.
Newcastle's strikeforce of Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse were offering nothing though and for the final 15 minutes it was Southampton who were doing all the meaningful attacking.
Jose Fonte was left completely unmarked from a corner in the 80th minute and headed onto the bar as the Saints hit the woodwork for a third time and then Rodriguez finished smartly in the final minute only to be wrongly flagged for offside.
Newcastle had given up long before the final whistle and Alan Pardew will be no doubt be disgusted with his side's performance.
Southampton though are finally bedding themselves into the league, and a first clean sheet of the season was the icing on the cake of an excellent day at the office.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Gaston Ramirez (Southampton): The club record signing from Uruguay popped up everywhere and Newcastle couldn't cope. His goal and assist were fully deserved.
SOUTHAMPTON: Gazzaniga 7; Clyne 7, Fonte 7, Yoshida 7, Shaw 7; Puncheon 8, Schneiderlin 8, Cork 7, Lallana 8; Ramírez 8; Lambert 7.
Subs: Hooiveld N/A, S. Davis 6, Rodriguez 6
NEWCASTLE: Krul 6; Simpson 5, Williamson 6, S.Taylor 6, Santon 6; Gutierrez 5, Tiote 6, Anita 6, Ferguson 5; Cisse 5, Ba 5.
Subs: Perch N/A, Marveaux 6, Sammy Ameobi 6
- Sports & Recreation
- Gaston Ramirez
- Adam Lallana
- Jason Puncheon