Ayoze Perez on his goal and why Newcastle don’t have ‘lesser’ squad than last time they played Southampton

Ayoze Perez in action against Southampton
Ayoze Perez in action against Southampton

Ayoze Perez told of his joy after netting his first Premier League goal in 19 months.

The forward netted in Sunday’s 2-2 draw against Southampton.

It was Perez’s first since in the top flight since his goal in the home defeat to Bournemouth in March last year which spelled the end of Steve McClaren’s brief tenure.

Perez beat former United goalkeeper Fraser Forster at his near post to put his team 2-1 ahead.

However, a 75th-minute penalty from Manolo Gabbiadini saw Southampton claim a point.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling to have scored in the Premier League again,” said Perez.

“It is amazing, and it was even better that it was an important goal. It allowed us to take the lead again, although in the end we had to settle for just one point.

“It’s still an important thing to have scored, though.”

Perez had made the point before the match that there was more to his game than goals – Rafa Benitez has him pressing high up the pitch – but the 24-year-old knows he must also make a contribution up front.

“I always know that I will get chances to score,” said Perez.

“Every game, we create chances, and that’s a big positive. I think we have great movement as a team, and that helps us to create chances to score goals.

“We know where our team-mates are when we are attacking, and I think we attack well as a team.

“It’s just about taking those chances. We scored two goals in this game, and we could have had even more with the chances at the end.

“We have to take the point, and know that we’re moving in the right direction, because we’re working hard.”

Benitez and his players left the St Mary’s Stadium disappointed that they hadn’t taken all three points.

“It’s a good point, but we are a little bit disappointed because we feel as though we dropped two points too,” said Perez.

“We were well organised, and we know when we have to suffer. We played with a lot of strength.

“We had the lead twice, which is important when you are playing away from home, but they did well to come back into it.

“In the end, maybe we have to be satisfied that we got one point. Now, we just have to look forward to the next one.”

Newcastle had lost on their previous three visits to the St Mary’s Stadium.

The last of those defeats was a “horrendous” 3-1 loss in April last year early in Benitez’s tenure.

“We are not happy to be leaving here with just a point, and that’s a massive difference from the last time we were here,” said Perez.

“You can see the big difference straight away. Some people might say this is a lesser squad, because we had a lot of big players that season, but everything about the way we are is different.

“We lost that game, and it was an absolutely horrendous afternoon. It was not good at all, but you can feel the difference to how we are now straight away.”