Newport County AFC were knocked out of the Carabao Cup after an 8-0 defeat against a ruthless Southampton on their return to Rodney Parade.
County had faced four trips on the road at the start of the new campaign and were finally cheered on by a bumper home crowd for the first time since March 2020.
But it proved to be a difficult evening for the Exiles as Mohamed Elyounoussi struck a second half hat-trick, while Armando Broja, Nathan Tella, Kyle Walker-Peters and Nathan Redmond were also on the scoresheet as the Saints’ Premier League quality shone through.
Borja got the visitors up and running before Tella and Walker-Peters put them three goals to the good at the interval. Elyounoussi struck twice in seven minutes after the restart before Borja added his second of the evening.
Redmond fired in the seventh midway through the second half and Elyounoussi notched up his third in stoppage time.
Wayne Hatswell, who led County for the second time in Michael Flynn's absence, made six changes from the 1-0 win over Tranmere Rovers on Saturday, with Matty Dolan returning to the starting line up to captain the Exiles for the first time since the opening day.
While Ralph Hasenhuttl fielded a strong side that was filled with Premier League quality and captained by James Ward-Prowse.
It was a lively opening from the Saints as Nick Townsend was brought into action early on, although Robbie Willmott provided them with a nervy moment when he got the better of Tella and saw his cross put behind by Stephens.
But it took the away side nine minutes to hit the front. After cutting inside on his left foot, Redmond saw his strike from 25 years expertly saved on to the crossbar by Townsend, but there was little the goalkeeper could do from keeping out the follow-up as Broja tapped home from close range. The celebrations were put on hold as the striker looked to see if the linesman had caught him offside but the goal stood.
And the Saints, who continued to threaten through Redmond, almost doubled their advantage through the England international seven minutes later. The forward pounced on a loose ball and ventured forward before dragging his effort wide of the far post.
Redmond was difficult to contain and created the away side’s second after his pass set up a quick counter-attack. Elyounoussi was on the receiving end of the pass and rolled the ball into the path of Tella, who darted into the penalty area and stroked the ball past Townsend.
County had Townsend to thank for preventing the away side from adding to their tally before the interval after he produced a fingertip save to divert Redmond’s curling effort from finding the far corner.
But the Saints had their third on the stroke of half time when Walker-Peters brought Redmond’s cross-field pass under control, cut inside and fired the ball home.
The visitors inflicted more misery on the Exiles after the restart with three quick-fire goals in the space of nine minutes. Elyounoussi was on hand to divert the ball into an empty net after Broja’s strike was tipped onto the post by Townsend before Ward-Prowse’s pass carved open another opportunity for Elyounoussi, who netted his second. The Norwegian then turned provided as he rolled the ball into the path of Broja and he curled the ball into the top corner.
Redmond added the Saints’ seventh of the evening with a well-taken finish which flew in, before Elyounoussi completed his hat-trick in stoppage time, bringing an end to a difficult evening for the Exiles on their return to Rodney Parade.
Newport County AFC: Nick Townsend, Louis Hall, Priestley Farquharson, Matty Dolan (C) (Ed Upson 45’), James Clarke, Aaron Lewis, Chris Missilou, Scot Bennett (Jordan Greenidge 64’), Finn Azaz (Kevin Ellison 45’), Robbie Willmott, Timmy Abraham.
Substitutes not used: Joe Day, Ryan Haynes, Ed Upson, Lewis Collins, Jermaine Hylton.