Belfast Telegraph

Pellegrino hoping for Gabbiadini spark

Southampton manager Mauricio Pellegrino hopes striker Manolo Gabbiadini can regain confidence and form after the Italian's double rescued a 2-2 draw against Newcastle.

Making his first start in over a month, Gabbiadini scored twice at St Mary's Stadium - the second a penalty with 15 minutes left - to cancel out goals from Newcastle's Isaac Hayden and Ayoze Perez.

Southampton have struggled in attack of late and a return to form for Gabbiadini would be particularly timely. He hit six goals in his first four games for the club last season.

"Manolo is an important player for us," Pellegrino said.

"It's positive for his confidence but the most important thing is he was working really hard, not just for himself but for the team."

Pellegrino avoided criticising referee Kevin Friend despite his decision not to hand Newcastle's DeAndre Yedlin a second yellow card for a high and late challenge in the second half.

Southampton were grateful, however, for a late penalty after Florian Lejeune made a needless challenge on Shane Long and Gabbiadini slammed the spot-kick home.

Newcastle, who stay ninth in the Premier League table, one place above Saints, will see this as an opportunity missed and Rafael Benitez admits he had mixed feelings at the full-time whistle.

"After this kind of game you are disappointed because you could win but happy at the same time because you go away and get another point against a good team," Benitez said.

"I like the team in a lot of things we did. I am not happy with the two goals we conceded but overall it was a good performance and a great game to watch for everyone."

Lejeune almost made amends for his earlier error but his 89th-minute header was cleared off the line by Southampton substitute Steven Davis.

Benitez also said his side were effectively down to 10 men in the latter stages as Dwight Gayle, who had also come off the bench, was struggling with a stiff calf.

"He was working hard and even with like 10 players he was running, wining some balls and passing," Benitez said. "But we couldn't use his pace. It was a pity because maybe he was the solution."

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