Mohamed Elyounoussi’s hat-trick seals Southampton’s rout of Newport
By the time Nathan Redmond got in on the act, adding Southampton’s seventh goal, Newport County must have wondered when the referee would put them out of their misery, or perhaps whether it was possible to stop the count. The bad news was there were still 21 minutes left on the clock, time for Mohamed Elyounoussi to complete his hat-trick, his first goals for the club. The good news? His third was almost the last kick of the game.
Ralph Hasenhüttl warned his players to expect anything but an afternoon stroll in the backyard of a League Two team with form for a giant-killing – Brighton and Newcastle squeaked through on penalties in cup competitions here last season – but it turned out to be an evening waltz, a rather serene experience as Southampton recorded their biggest away win and secured a third-round Carabao Cup trip to Sheffield United.
“It was a serious performance from the first minute,” Hasenhüttl said. “To get so early three goals up allowed us to push and keep the tempo high, then we could score a lot of goals. You have to take it seriously and have a clear plan. We managed it quite well but we should not hang it too high – it was against a lower-league team. We know a lot of teams have struggled here in the past.”
This was a non-event from the moment Armando Broja, who scored twice on debut, opened his Southampton account on nine minutes. Elyounoussi capped a fine display with a second-half treble, adding to goals by Nathan Tella, Kyle Walker-Peters and Redmond. A Southampton second-string proved ravenous and how they schooled Newport. “One became two very quickly and all of a sudden it deflated us,” said Wayne Hatswell, the Newport assistant manager. “It was a harsh lesson. When they get chances, they are clinical in what they do. We didn’t give up but heads went down a little bit.”
“Welcome back to Rodney Parade,” came the hearty refrain over the public address system before kick-off, with Newport supporters back here in their numbers for the first time in more than 17 months. It was said with gusto, as if in anticipation of adding another scalp to the list but any hopes of an upset never got off the ground this time around, with Southampton, superior in all departments, out of sight by half-time. In truth, the margin should have been even bigger at the interval, with Redmond and Elyounoussi, who spent last season on loan at Celtic, guilty of spurning inviting openings.
The first goal came when Broja reacted quickest in the box after Redmond’s powerful shot was tipped on to the crossbar by goalkeeper Nick Townsend, the Chelsea loanee on hand to fire in the rebound. Southampton’s second stemmed from a wonderful sprayed ball by Redmond, who half-volleyed a diagonal pass upfield for Elyounoussi to nudge into the path of Tella, who applied a ruthless finish. Southampton created a buffet of chances and Walker-Peters arrowed a shot beyond Townsend at his near post to score his first goal for the club.
The second half was a couple of minutes old when Southampton racked up a fourth through Elyounoussi. It must have made tough viewing for the Newport manager Michael Flynn, watching from home after testing positive for coronavirus, as the Southampton captain, James Ward-Prowse – one of only two players retained from the team that held Manchester United to a draw on Sunday – conducted a beautiful symphony from midfield. Southampton’s speed of thought troubled Newport and an exquisite give-and-go between Tella and Elyounoussi even drew gasps from both sets of supporters.
Elyounoussi rattled in the fifth, Broja the sixth, Redmond the seventh. And then came the eighth as Elyounoussi added his third goal in stoppage time. Hasenhüttl even took the unusual step of withdrawing Ward-Prowse, who had not missed a minute of competitive action since February last year, with 20 minutes to spare. His – and Southampton’s – work was already done.