Kenedy scored twice and Jonjo Shelvey played a starring role as Newcastle United piled the pressure on Southampton manager Mauricio Pellegrino by going five points clear of the Premier League relegation zone with a 3-0 win.
Newcastle had missed a chance to put breathing room between themselves and the drop two weeks ago when they let a 2-0 lead slip in a 2-2 draw at Bournemouth before suffering a 2-0 loss to Liverpool at Anfield.
They started the day 16th and only a point and a place above Southampton in a crowded fight against the drop but needed only 63 seconds to take the lead at St James' Park with Kenedy's first goal since joining on loan from Chelsea.
He made it 2-0 in the 29th minute and the result was never in doubt as Southampton produced a miserable performance fitting of a side only a point above danger.
Matt Ritchie effectively wrapped up the points in the 57th minute, Shelvey registering his second assist to ensure a victory that moves Newcastle up to 13th place on 32 points with eight games to play.
By contrast Southampton remain firmly in the mire and their display will raise further concerns as to whether Pellegrino is the right man to keep them up.
2 - Kenedy is the first Newcastle player to score a brace at St James' Park in the Premier League since Georginio Wijnaldum in May 2016. Orthodontist. pic.twitter.com/m5RBTkVlPr— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) March 10, 2018
A raucous atmosphere greeted the players at kick-off and the home crowd soon had reason to raise the decibel level as Kenedy opened his account for the club in style.
Shelvey lofted a delightful ball to the Brazilian, who controlled excellently with his chest on the turn and scuffed an effort into the bottom-right corner.
Newcastle could have been 2-0 up had Dwight Gayle been able to control an excellent cross from Shelvey as the hosts threatened to run riot.
Southampton grew into the game without troubling Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka and some extremely sloppy defending allowed the hosts in again, Mario Lemina conceding possession in his own half only for Gayle to fire straight at Alex McCarthy after dithering over whether to let Ayoze Perez take the shot on.
But just before the half hour Gayle displayed markedly more composure to double Newcastle's advantage following a Southampton corner.
Guido Carrillo mishit a shot and slipped as the delivery was only half-cleared, that allowed Ayoze Perez to race onto the ball and into the Southampton half before finding Gayle, who squared for Kenedy to tap in at the far post.
2 - Jonjo Shelvey has provided two assists in a single Premier League game for the first time since May 2015 for Swansea City. Creator.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) March 10, 2018
Shane Long and Josh Sims came on for Southampton for the second half but the changes had little impact on the pattern of play as Newcastle continued to dominate.
Perez headed over from a Ritchie corner and Kenedy lashed a half-volley wide as he looked to complete his hat-trick.
Yet it was Ritchie who put the game beyond doubt with a fine finish. Shelvey collected the ball in space on the edge of the area and twice shaped to shoot before laying the ball off for the Scotland international to find the bottom-left corner with an expertly placed strike.
Carrillo and Sims did finally test Dubravka in the Newcastle goal but the Magpies had no problem in seeing out a result that will significantly ease the tension on Tyneside.
Key Opta Facts:
- Newcastle kept a clean sheet for the first time in 13 league games against Southampton, since a 1-0 win in October 2003.
- Newcastle United scored as many goals this afternoon as they had in their previous six combined at St James' Park in the Premier League (3).
- Matt Ritchie's strike was the 12th goal Southampton have conceded from outside the box in the Premier League this season, more than any other side.
- Kenedy's opener was his first in the Premier League for Newcastle and his second overall in the competition. His first came after 39 seconds (vs Norwich in March 2016), while the first goal today came with 63 seconds on the clock.
- After a run of 10 Premier League games without a goal or assist, Dwight Gayle has had a hand in four goals in his last four appearances in the competition (two goals, two assists).
- Jonjo Shelvey provided two assists in a Premier League game for the fourth time, and first since May 2015 for Swansea against Stoke.