Newcastle United struggles again with 3-1 loss at Southampton

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SOUTHAMPTON, England (AP) — Relegation-threatened Newcastle put in another lackluster performance on Saturday as Southampton easily won their English Premier League match 3-1.

An early goal from Shane Long in the fourth minute set the tone of a match in which Newcastle failed to make much impact.

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Graziano Pelle and Victor Wanyama added the second and third goals in the 38th and 55th minutes respectively to condemn Newcastle to its eighth straight away defeat. Andros Townsend scored a fine consolation goal on 65 minutes, but it did nothing to alter his side's fortunes.

Newcastle stays 19th in the league, six points from safety with relegation looking increasingly likely.

Southampton remains seventh.

Newcastle's performance typified what has been a woeful run of form for Rafa Benitez's team. There was very little to cheer for the travelling supporters, as they watched their side fail to deal with the attacking threat from a far superior Southampton.

"Newcastle are in relegation trouble, so we knew they were going to throw everything," said Southampton midfielder Wanyama. "We needed to stay in the game. We did it well."

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Benitez's appointment as manager on March 11 has done little to change his side's fortunes. It is still without a win under the Spaniard, and this latest performance won't have given fans any reason for optimism. Newcastle now has just six games to turn its season around.

"It important that everybody continues to believe," Benitez said. "The anxiety is killing us sometimes. If we can control these things then things will change."

Southampton's first-half goals highlighted Newcastle's weaknesses, both coming after avoidable defensive errors. Newcastle's goals-conceded record is the second worst in the league after Aston Villa, having kept just one clean sheet in its last 17 league games.

A fine 25-meter strike from Newcastle's Andros Townsend gave a glimpse of the skill that some of its players possess, but his side continues to look like a group of individuals, rather than a strong team unit.