Newcastle United 2 Southampton 2: Defensive frailties a concern for Steve McClaren after opening draw


New boy Georginio Wijnaldum netted on his Newcastle United debut this afternoon – but his goal wasn’t enough for his team to take all three points.

Substitute Shane Long claimed a point for Southampton at St James’s Park, where the two sides played out a season-opening 2-2 draw.

While United played well for spells, they struggled to defend aerial balls into the box.

And both Southampton’s goals came from far-post headers.

An unchallenged Graziano Pelle gave the visitors a 24th-minute lead with a header from a right-wing Cedric Soares cross.

Papiss Demba Cisse levelled from close range before the break – he chested a Massadio Haidara ball over the line – and midfielder Wijnaldum, signed from PSV Eindhoven last month, put United ahead early in the second half with a fine header from a well-delivered Gabriel Obertan cross.

Newcastle, however, were pegged back in the 79th minute.

Long’s headed strike was remarkably similar to that from Pelle in the first half.

Dusan Tadic crossed from the right for him at the far post, and the striker beat Daryl Janmaat to head past goalkeeper Tim Krul.

United, captained by Fabricio Coloccini, had two strong first-half penalty appeals in the game, which also saw defender Chancel Mbemba and striker Aleksandar Mitrovic, both signed from Anderlecht, make their Premier League debuts.

NEWCASTLE UNITED: Krul, Janmaat, Mbemba, Coloccini, Haidara; Colback, Anita (Tiote, 67); Sissoko, Wijnaldum (De Jong, 81), Obertan; Cisse (Mitrovic, 75). Subs not used: Darlow, Taylor, Aarons, Perez.

SOUTHAMPTON: Stekelenburg, Soares (Martina, 46), Fonte, Yoshida, Targett, Wanyama, S Davis, Tadic, Mane, Rodriguez (Long, 65), Pelle. Subs not used: Gazzaniga, Ward-Prowse, Reed, Juanmi, Caulker.

Goals: Pelle 24, Cisse 43, Wijnaldum 48, Long 79

Bookings: Soares 12, Colback 56, Fonte 60, Mitrovic 75

Referee: Craig Pawson (South Yorkshire)

Attendance: 49,710 (1,250 Southampton)