Allan Saint-Maximin has a message for Newcastle United fans as he addresses 'fallout' claim

Allan Saint-Maximin dedicated his goal against Southampton to Newcastle United’s fans – after a memorable week on the road for the club.

Sunday, 8th March 2020, 12:11 pm

Saint-Maximin also addressed the controversy over his omission from Steve Bruce’s starting XI against Burnley a week earlier after scoring in yesterday’s 1-0 win at the St Mary’s Stadium.

The winger took the ball from Yan Valery and rolled the ball past Alex McCarthy before somersaulting in front of the club’s 3,000-strong travelling support in celebration.

The 80th-minute strike against 10-man Southampton, which was United’s first goal in 440 minutes of Premier League football, followed an outstanding performance in Tuesday night’s FA Cup win over West Bromwich Albion.

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And the result took the 13th-placed club up to 35 points, with nine games left to play, ahead of a Saturday’s home game against Sheffield United.

“It was a really big result, a really important win,” Saint-Maximin told the Gazette.

“We did everything to win in the cup, a difficult game against West Brom, and we said we had to do something similar in the league and do everything for the win against Southampton.

“And, you know even if they play with 10 players, because they took a red card, they tried to do everything to win this game, to defend well.

Allan Saint-Maximin celebrates his goal against Southampton.

“I’m really happy to score this goal, and I give this goal to the supporters, because they travel a lot, they do everything for us and for the team, and that’s why I’m really happy to give this win to the supporters.”

Matt Ritchie had missed a first-half penalty in the game after a handball from Sofiane Boufal, while McCarthy had pulled off a superb treble save to deny Dwight Gayle and Miguel Almiron early in the match.

Gayle, preferred to No.9 Joelinton up front, also missed a couple of other chances in a game dominated by the VAR decisions to send off Moussa Djenepo for a dangerous challenge on Isaac Hayden and penalise Boufal for handling in the box.

“We had a lot of opportunities in the first half, even a penalty, and Matty Ritchie was unlucky not to score,” said Saint-Maximin, who played the full 90 minutes at the St Mary’s Stadium.

Allan Saint-Maximin.

“You know it’s difficult in your head when you do everything to score. We get five chances in the first half, and we get in the dressing room and it’s 0-0.

“It’s difficult, but we kept going, we kept trying. It kept running, pressing, and we were more lucky. This goal, I didn’t have to dribble. I just had to run and finish good. I’m really happy to score this goal.

“It’s a really good week. We’re still in the cup. We’ve won in the Premier League. The next game is at home. It’s a really good position.

“We have 35 points, and a game at home. I think we have to keep going. We have two games at home, and we have to do everything to win these two games.”

Steve Bruce at The Hawthorns.

Saint-Maximin had started the Burnley game at St James’s Park from the bench because of what Bruce described as a “sore” hamstring and back.

Bruce angrily denied a report that there had been a behind-the-scenes “fallout” with Saint-Maximin, signed from Nice last summer for £16.5million, over the decision.

Saint-Maximin, disappointed not to start against Burnley, was happy to help the team on his return to the starting XI on what turned out to be previously under-pressure Bruce’s best week yet as Newcastle head coach.

And his match-winning performance – and celebratory acrobatics – backed up Saint-Maximin’s claim that his “body feels good”.

“I feel good,” said Saint-Maximin. “My body feels good. I try to run a lot and to help my team.

“I stay on the bench against Burnley, and after, it’s normal, when you don’t play, you cannot be happy.

“That’s why I keep learning, I train good, and after I play in the cup and give assist to Miggy (Almiron). Now I give a win to my team. I’m really happy, because my partner worked a lot to give me a lot of balls. I’m really to give this goal to my team and to the supporters.”

Bruce said that his decision to leave Saint-Maximin out of his starting XI against Burnley – and him a “break” – had been vindicated after the Southampton game.

“What a wonderful decision it was to leave him on the bench last week,” said Bruce. “I thought he wasn’t quite physically right. I gave him a break from it. Now he’s scored one and made two in the cup tie.

“I’m delighted for him. I said from day one he’s always going to please everybody, and you’ll enjoy watching him. He’s a natural footballer, and they don’t come round too often like that. He’s got frightening pace, great balance. He’s frustrating at times, and he has to learn, but if he learns he’s got a bright future ahead of him.”

Saint-Maximin tweeted a photograph of him embracing Bruce at the final whistle after the game.

Maximin – who has had two hamstring injuries this season – has scored three goals for United so far this season, with two of them coming in the league.

Meanwhile, Bruce went to acknowledge the away fans after the match.

“I just wanted to show my appreciation,” said the 59-year-old.