Ayoze Perez scored a superb hat-trick as Newcastle United all but sealed their Premier League safety with an impressive 3-1 home victory over Southampton.
Newcastle striker Perez netted in the 27th and 31st minutes and added a late clincher four minutes from time to move onto 10 top-flight goals for the season.
Substitute Mario Lemina's first league goal in 14 months, combined with injuries to Miguel Almiron and Fabian Schar, made for a tense second half for the hosts, but they prevailed to leave Southampton with work to do to secure their own survival.
Newcastle had an early penalty claim turned down when Almiron's shot was blocked by hand of Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg at close range, before the Paraguay international had a blistering strike tipped over by Angus Gunn.
Home players were fuming with referee Anthony Taylor again when he only showed James Ward-Prowse a yellow card for bringing down Almiron near the halfway line as he raced towards goal, Rafael Benitez's assistant Mikel Antia sent to the stands for his protests.
But the mood at St James' Park improved rapidly when Perez struck twice in under four minutes. First, he showed strength to hold off Maya Yoshida and send a fine finish into the far corner after Isaac Hayden's tackle had set up the chance, before the Spaniard converted Salomon Rondon's precise cross with a sliding back-post finish from six yards.
Southampton brought on Lemina and Stuart Armstrong at half-time, but it was almost game over when Ki Sung-yueng fired a low strike against the foot of the post from almost 25 yards.
The visitors took advantage of that reprieve by getting back into the game in the 59th minute, Lemina confidently finding the bottom corner from the edge of the box after being set up by Nathan Redmond and Armstrong.
Newcastle lost both a tearful Almiron and then Schar to injuries, and tensions were high when Yoshida blazed over a glorious chance to equalise from six yards.
Gunn then made a superb save from Hayden's deflected strike and Rondon's header was cleared off the line by Ward-Prowse, but a third goal arrived when Perez cleverly diverted Matt Ritchie's diving header past the keeper.
What does it mean? Saints still have work to do
Southampton paid the price for a poor first half performance where they struggled to contain Newcastle and offered little at the other end. As a result, they remain five points clear of third-bottom Cardiff City, who host title-chasing Liverpool on Sunday, with four games to play.
Meanwhile, 12th-placed Newcastle have now won two straight games and are 10 points clear of the Welsh side. They are likely to be mathematically safe before they play again, and the club's focus now turns towards keeping Benitez.
Perez produces when it matters
In-form Perez has reached 10 Premier League goals for the first time since joining Newcastle in 2014. He came in for criticism from Newcastle fans earlier in the season, but has responded in style since then – eight of his 11 goals in all competitions coming in 2019 - and proven key to their survival.
3 - Ayoze Perez is the first Newcastle player to score a hat-trick in the Premier League since October 2015, when Georginio Wijnaldum netted four goals against Norwich. Beaming. #NEWSOU pic.twitter.com/g9N7t3zn5F— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 20, 2019
Yoshida found out for Saints
Yoshida had a poor day at the office. He failed to halt Perez's run for the first goal, was unable to block Rondon's cross for the second, and later squandered a wonderful chance to equalise from close range when Nathan Redmond had picked him out with the match in the balance at 2-1. Having made a strong start to the second half, Saints lost all their momentum from there.
Key Opta Facts
This was Newcastle's sixth home Premier League win of 2019 – only Man City (8) and Arsenal (7) have won more.
Southampton have lost three of their last four away Premier League games (W1 D0 L3), having lost just one of their first four away matches under Ralph Hasenhuttl (W2 D2 L1).
Perez's hat-trick was Newcastle's first in the Premier League since October 2015, when Georginio Wijnaldum scored four times against Norwich City.
Perez has scored 10 Premier League goals this season – his best tally in a single top-flight season for Newcastle United.
Perez has scored seven goals in his last seven Premier League appearances at St. James' Park.
Rondon has been involved in more Premier League goals than any other Newcastle player this season (15 – 9 goals, 6 assists).
Southampton have a key game away to in-form Watford on Tuesday, while Newcastle are not back in action until they travel to struggling Brighton and Hove Albion next Saturday.
|Bale staying at Madrid impossible as Zidane is ´not keen´ - Calderon|
|Kroos agrees Real Madrid extension to 2023|
|Gundogan to renew contract talks with Manchester City|
|Folau opts not to appeal against Rugby Australia ban, still considering options|
|Nadal clear French Open favourite – Djokovic|
|Nedved: No Juve decision amid Sarri and Inzaghi links|
|Gil Marin: We need players totally committed to Atletico|
|Gardner´s big game helps Yankees pull away from Rays|
|This is playoff basketball – Leonard on playing through injury in Raptors win|
|Second most NRL games and 99 tries – Cronk´s career in Opta numbers|
|Spieth: I´m almost back at my best|
|Three takeaways from Raptors´ key Game 3 win over Bucks|
|Trail Blazers star Lillard addresses rib injury|
|Raptors top Bucks in double-OT thriller|
|MLS Review: Nani brace lifts Orlando, Galaxy stunned by Rapids|
|Cronk: It´s been one hell of a ride|
|Johnson upbeat despite falling short|
|Koepka holds on at US PGA – how a dramatic back nine unfolded at Bethpage Black|
|´Phenomenal´ and ´mind-blowing´ – Koepka basks in US PGA triumph|
|NRL great Cronk to retire at season´s end|
|Kevin Muscat to leave Melbourne Victory|
|Bethpage wobble does little to deny Koepka´s status as golf´s dominant major force|
|Brooks Koepka´s timeline of major dominance following US PGA triumph|
|Koepka relieved to retain US PGA title after ´stressful´ finish|
|Allegri seeking a challenge, not a sabbatical|
|Koepka retains PGA title despite back-nine collapse|
|Spalletti tells players to prove they´ve the bottle to play for Inter|
|City want to dominate English football forever, says Laporte|
|Fernando Alonso fails to quality for Indy 500|
|Bordeaux collapse to costly defeat, Stade hopes dashed by Montpellier|
|Valverde pessimistic about Coutinho, Dembele playing in Copa final|
|Koepka collapse sets up grandstand finale at PGA|
|Everyone would want our situation - De Bruyne not concerned by Champions League failure|
|Mbappe drops PSG exit hint|
|Guardiola: I´ll be judged on Champions League record at Man City|
|Gattuso thankful to Milan penalty hero Donnarumma|
|Johnson cuts Koepka lead to four with nine to play at Bethpage|
|Arthur ´very confident´ in Pakistan CWC hopes despite losing streak|
|Juventus 1 Atalanta 1: Mandzukic spares Allegri from defeat in home finale|
|Napoli 4 Inter 1: Spalletti´s side crushed as Champions League race goes to the wire|
|Woakes: World Cup wait makes for nervy Monday|
|Koepka retains control of PGA after early wobble|
|Tsonga topples Lajovic in Lyon|
|Galatasaray edge derby to retain Super Lig title|
|Sabalenka ends clay drought in style with Strasbourg success|
|Here´s to you, Vincent Kompany – The giant of Manchester City´s changing times|
|Wonderful Woakes stars as England wrap up 4-0 win|
|AC Milan 2 Frosinone 0: Piatek and Suso keep top-four hopes intact|
|Messi equals Zarra´s record with sixth Pichichi award|
|Ireland outclass Afghanistan in Belfast|
|Ligue 1 sensation Pepe to leave Lille|
|Paderborn clinch promotion back to the Bundesliga|
|Five player-manager success stories for Kompany to follow|
|Nadal breaks 2019 duck by downing Djokovic for ninth Rome crown|
|Roglic pounces on Campenaerts´ misfortune to apply pressure to Giro leader Conti|
|Eibar 2 Barcelona 2: Two-goal Messi moves four clear of Mbappe in Golden Shoe race|
|Dominant Koepka chasing history in final round of US PGA|
|Betis confirm Setien departure|
|Celtic´s Boyata agrees to join Hertha Berlin|
|´I have lived the dream´: Kompany´s best moments at Manchester City|
|Zidane vows to make changes as Navas & Bale face uncertain futures|
|MotoGP Raceweek: Marquez masters Le Mans to make it three wins in four|
|We are the guilty ones - Marcelo says Madrid players must accept responsibility|
|Ten trophies, 360 appearances, 20 goals - Kompany´s Manchester City career in numbers|
|Pliskova seals Rome title with straight-sets win|
|De Bruyne, Neville and a rock ´n´ roll star pay tribute to captain fantastic Kompany|
|Perth Glory 0 Sydney FC 0 (aet, 1-4 on penalties): Redmayne the hero in A-League Grand Final|
|Real Madrid 0 Real Betis 2: Zidane´s men humbled in final-day defeat|
|Joshua-Wilder must be next, no excuses - Hearn|
|Trail Blazers need effort over strategy in Game 4 against Warriors - Stotts|