Yoan Gouffran’s fifth Premier League goal of the season was not enough to send Newcastle closer to the Champions League places, as Southampton earned a point at St James’ Park.

The Frenchman struck in the first half as Newcastle dominated proceedings but took their foot off the gas in the second period, as Southampton piled on the pressure and eventually equalised through Jay Rodriguez.

After their historic win over Manchester United last time out, Newcastle started like a team full of confidence and won the all-important midfield battle hands down. Vurnon Anita – playing in place of the suspended Yohan Cabaye – and Cheick Tiote settled quickly and allowed the Magpies to push forward.

The first opportunity came early on. Just six minutes were on the clock when a clever corner routine found Mathieu Debuchy on the edge of the box, but his volley flew just wide of Paolo Gazzaniga’s goal.

Stand-in keeper Gazzaniga was again beaten just before the quarter-hour mark, when another nice move should have resulted in the opening goal. Shola Ameobi – restored to the team as Alan Pardew’s only change after the Man United win – slid a perfect pass through to Gouffran, who rounded the Saints stopper and cut back for Loic Remy, whose effort was cleared off the line by Calum Chambers.

The pressure soon told though, as Newcastle took the lead midway through the half.

Jos Hooiveld created it as he made a meal of Mike Williamson’s header and it fell to Gouffran, who skipped round Gazzaniga and slotted into the empty net to give Newcastle the lead they deserved.

The only chance the visitors created in the first period was when Rickie Lambert momentarily escaped the Newcastle defence but dragged his shot well wide of Tim Krul’s post.

Southampton boss Mauricio Pochettino changed things at half-time, as he introduced Adam Lallana and Morgan Schneiderlin into the mix.

This gave Saints more attacking impetus and they could have equalised when Lambert’s excellent pass found Rodriguez, but the new England international couldn’t make a proper connection with the assist.

They came even closer with 25 minutes remaining, when the impressive Steven Davis controlled and volleyed an effort towards goal, only to see it crash back off the post with Krul beaten.

The breakthrough was coming though and it came when Rodriguez and Davis again combined and this time the finish was applied by the former Burnley forward.

Southampton pushed for a winner and Rodriguez was looking threatening, especially when he climbed highest to send a header on target, only for Krul to get down well and turn it away.

But the clearest chance for a winner fell to the home side, when Gazzaniga fluffed his lines with a simple clearance and provided Remy with a clear-cut opportunity. The France forward has nine goals to his name this season but could not make it into double figures as he curled his effort well wide of goal.

Hilarious scenes then followed as Moussa Sissoko accidentally decked referee Michael Jones as he tried to help up Gazzaniga, before both benches clashed in injury time when Schneiderlin hacked Massadio Haidara down.

The bloodied referee finally blew for full-time as Newcastle were on the attack but a point apiece was a fair result as both sides kept up their pursuit of the European places.