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Visitors dominate hosts in impressive display to all but secure their Premier League status for next season
Lacklustre Leicester outplayed and outclassed to create doubts of a top-finish
It was five years ago on Friday when Leicester lifted the Premier League trophy, with Andrea Bocelli performing on an emotionally charged evening at the King Power Stadium.
After this chastening experience, Brendan Rodgers will be hoping it is not Time To Say Goodbye to their Champions League aspirations this season.
Leicester have now lost as many home games as Championship-bound West Brom and this was a nightmare, with one of their worst performances of the season coming at a poor time.
They remain in third place, with destiny in their own hands, but made Newcastle appear like European heavyweights in front of chairman Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha, attending his first Leicester game since February 2020.
Newcastle are all but assured of another season at this level after an irresistible display, fully capitalising on the withdrawal of Leicester’s Jonny Evans before kick-off with a foot injury.
When Newcastle play like this, it must make manager Steve Bruce feel like tearing his hair out at the inconsistency of his team, who were so tame in their last game against Arsenal.
Newcastle are now in 13th place, 12 points clear of the bottom three, and Bruce must have known it would be his night when defender Paul Dummett scored his first goal in 132 games, stretching back to January 2016.
There were also fine performances from goalscorers Joe Willock and Callum Wilson as Leicester were run ragged, with the absence of Evans from the back-three hugely damaging.
Evans hobbled off shortly before kick-off and Leicester never really recovered, with Caglar Soyuncu and Wesley Fofana both struggling without their experienced team-mate alongside them.
Rodgers will require an instant response, with games against Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham still to play.
He said: “We have made it a lot harder for ourselves but it is still in our hands. We have to fight and we are a group that is together.
“We have three exciting games left plus a cup final and we are excited for the challenge.
“It's a period of the season where we need to be super concentrated, you are very close to achieving what you want to achieve. We lacked concentration and if you do that against good teams and good players they punish you.
“Losing Jonny was very disruptive. Caglar and Wesley are fantastic talents but Jonny is the brain who organises. It was a big blow for us.”
Rodgers will have seen the best and worst of his team here.
Newcastle’s Allan Saint-Maximin had already forced a brilliant save from Kasper Schmeichel, but Leicester conceded in the 22nd minute after a shambolic moment for Soyuncu.
The Turkey international was totally unaware of Willock’s proximity as he picked up a loose ball from Dummett, but lost possession with an attempted ‘Cruyff turn’ and the Newcastle midfielder advanced towards goal to beat Schmeichel.
Willock has now scored in the last four league games, becoming the first Newcastle player to record that achievement since Papiss Cisse in April 2012.
Leicester were nervy, frequently giving the ball away and struggling to gather a grip on the game with Newcastle growing in confidence.
A second goal seemed inevitable and arrived 11 minutes before half-time, with a strike of brutal simplicity as Dummett climbed above Fofana to head home Matt Ritchie’s corner.
Newcastle claimed a third goal in the 64th minute, again as a result of Leicester being in disarray, with Timothy Castagne’s poor backpass allowing Wilson to lure Schmeichel before finding the empty net.
Wilson struck again from close range after his initial shot came back off the post and Leicester were all over the place.
They did produce a late snarl of defiance, with Marc Albrighton’s thumping strike and another goal for Kelechi Iheanacho, but have now lost eight games at home.
A memorable night for Bruce, who is now all but safe from relegation. “We are almost there and a darn sight better than we were a month ago. We are not safe, for the Premier League you can't take it for granted,” he said.
“Until it is done, we have to get ready for the next challenge. We’ve got a nice easy game against Manchester City next and until we get to that magic points number we can’t relax.”
Brendan Rodgers speaks...
On the nature of the defeat…
“It’s easy to analyse, we made so many mistakes and you cannot afford to do that. This is a period of the season where you need to concentrate, if you don’t you get punished. I am proud of the players they kept going. But too many mistakes without the ball and with it we weren’t as clean as we could have been.”
On losing Jonny Evans just before the start…
“It was a big blow, he’s the brain in our defensive line so for him to come out just before the match was a big blow.”
On the rest of the season…
"It’s not a shock, it’s a disappointment. Newcastle have good payers who can hurt you and they punished out mistakes. We have to go away and recover and and analyse how we can recover. We’ve three tough games to come but against teams we have done well against this season. We’re still in a good position and out fate is in our own hands.”
FULL TIME: Leicester 2-4 Newcastle
Is history repeating itself? Leicester have a top-four spot in their hands but a shock defeat has made their Champions League hopes look uncertain. Last year they fell at the final hurdle, it's not about to happen again, is it?
Based on tonight's and last week's (against Southampton) showings I'd say quite possibly...
Well played Newcastle, they dominated the first half and were good on the counter in the second. They were well worth the win and are now all but safe.
91 mins: Leicester 2-4 Newcastle
Wonderful save from Dubravka!
Thomas heads Albrighton's cross towards goal, that attempt is intercepted by Perez whose first-time volley is brilliantly saved at point-blank range by the Newcastle keeper.
89 mins: Leicester 2-4 Newcastle
Newcastle have dropped their guard over the past 10 minutes and given the hosts hope. It's all Leicester now - Soyuncu crosses into the box and Dummett heads for a corner.
From the set piece a relived Newcastle backline clear the danger.
Four added minutes to be played.
GOOOOOOAAAAAAALLLLLL!!! Leicester 2-4 Newcastle
Iheanacho gives the hosts a tiny bit more hope.
The striker collects the ball on the left-hand side of the box, cuts inside onto his left boot and squeezes his shot past two Newcastle players and into the near post...
Leicester have too much to do, surely?!
85 mins: Leicester 1-4 Newcastle
Leicester still seeing plenty of the ball, they're going wide and trying their luck with crosses. But, as with the rest of the match, Newcastle are dealing with the threats relatively easily.
It really has been a good counter-attacking performance from the visitors this second half.
82 mins: Leicester 1-4 Newcastle
Vardy slashes at the ball from the left-hand side of the box - it goes well wide.
Saint-Maximin is off for Joelinton for Newcastle.
GOOOOOAAAAALLLLL!!!! Leicester 1-4 Newcastle
Albrighton smashes it in from just inside the box. Too little, too late, you suspect.
Vardy got the ball inside the area and with his back to goal passed back to Albrighton, whose first-time shot gave Dubravka no chance.
77 mins: Leicester 0-4 Newcastle
Leicester face Man Utd next and any thoughts of them resting some players for the FA Cup final will have gone, such is the importance of that match now. On so many levels this has been a bad night for the hosts.
Mendy is on for Maddison for Leicester
73 mins: Leicester 0-4 Newcastle
Newcastle were spraying the ball around with the elan of a team 3-0 up when Almiron played in Wilson. His first attempt, with his right, hit the right upright, before coming back to him and with his left, from an acute angle he slotted home. Clinical and this is definitely an embarrassment for Leicester now.
GOOOOOAAAAALLLLL!!! Leicester 0-4 Newcastle
Wilson with a brilliant finish after his initial attempt hits the post
70 mins: Leicester 0-3 Newcastle
Soyuncu crosses for Vardy whose touch falls to Iheanacho but the ball won't sit for him and he cannot get a shot on goal. That's who it is going for the hosts, nothing is going their way.
67 mins: Leicester 0-3 Newcastle
Tielemans decides to have go from distance, it's well blocked. The ball is then played into the box from the right and Perez's attempt is well saved by Dubravka.
Thomas is on for Ricardo as Rodgers makes a second change.
65 mins: Leicester 0-3 Newcastle
Newcastle haven't lost when Wilson has scored and that won't change tonight.
Leicester aren't just getting beaten they are on the verge of being embarrassed.
GOOOOOOOAAAAAALLLL!!!!! Leicester 0-3 Newcastle
Wilson scores on the break and this is game over!
A long straight ball does the trick, Wilson is on the end of it and one-on-one with Schmeichel. He comes in on to his right rounds the keeper and slots home. A true sucker punch!
60 mins: Leicester 0-2 Newcastle
No real gilt-edged chances for either Vardy or Iheanachoso far tonight. That's a reflection of just how poor the hosts have been but also the solid performance put in by Steve Bruce's side.
Rodgers makes a chance - Ndidi is off and former Newcastle man Perez is on...
58 mins: Leicester 0-2 Newcastle
Albrighton gets in a cross form the left but as he does so I count eight Newcastle players behind the ball. They are content to sit deep and soak up these (not overly threatening) Leicester attacks.
56 mins: Leicester 0-2 Newcastle
Another Leicester free kick - Tielemans floats one in but the Newcastle players defend it well. They are playing well tonight.
53 mins: Leicester 0-2 Newcastle
Free kick for Leicester - Maddison stands over it, it's 25 yards out, fairly central. Can he get his side back in this match?
He nearly does, the wall does its job, deflecting the attempt just wide.
From the resulting corner Ndidi heads at the back post, but his effort is just wide - he should have at least hit the target.
50 mins: Leicester 0-2 Newcastle
The hosts are seeing plenty of the ball as Newcastle sit deep but they've been unable to fashion a decent chance so far. Obviously the visitors are fine if the scoreline stays the same.
Ndidi has a chipped shot, that is deflected, easily saved by Dubravka.
49 mins: Leicester 0-2 Newcastle
Stat Attack: Leicester have lost nine game all season and seven of them have been at home so this shouldn't be a shock BUT it is Newcastle they're being outplayed by and losing to...
47 mins: Leicester 0-2 Newcastle
Half a chance for Maddison as Iheanacho curls in a ball that the midfielder heads (with the back of his head) over the bar. He takes a slight knock in the process but gets up and looks ok.
45 mins: Leicester 0-2 Newcastle
We're back under way at the King Power.
Leicester were as off the pace in the first half it was as I would be if racing against Haile Gebrselassie in the marathon...They need to be more aggressive and get an early goal.
Good business from Newcastle, bad business from Arsenal
HALF TIME: Leicester 0-2 Newcastle
That was unexpected.
Newcastle are well worth their two-goal lead and Leicester's Champions League dreams are under slight threat at the break.
45 mins: Leicester 0-2 Newcastle
Vardy sniffs out a chance the ball is bouncing in the area and Vardy tries to lift it over the on-rushing Dubravka who makes a good save. That would have changed the complexion of the half-time team talks...
44 mins: Leicester 0-2 Newcastle
Maddison finds Vardy on the left but his low ball to the near post is easily cleared by the Newcastle backline - that sort of sums the hosts up in terms of attacking threat this first 45 minutes.
41 mins: Leicester 0-2 Newcastle
Another Ritchie corner from the right causes problems for Leicester. This time they scramble the ball away and concede a corner from the left in the process. This set piece is cleared away.
Goal machine (in Newcastle terms, at least...)
39 mins: Leicester 0-2 Newcastle
Castagne plays a crossfield ball for Vardy who wins a corner. Can they make it count?
The answer is a big fat no. Newcastle break and win a free kick in their own half.
36 mins: Leicester 0-2 Newcastle
Tielemans has the ball poached off his feet from Saint-Maximin and he plays in Wilson. The Newcastle striker's attempt is a feeble one having been ultimately crowded out by Fofana and Soyuncu
35 mins: Leicester 0-2 Newcastle
Albrighton crosses from the left and Iheanacho hits it first time forcing Dubravka into a good, but regulation save.
Leicester could do with a goal before the break.
34 mins: Leicester 0-2 Newcastle
It seems weird to type this but Newcastle have been all over Leicester. They dominated possession and caused numerous problems for the hosts.
The ball came in from the right and Dummett rose above his man to head into the net from all of a few yards.
Leicester are making a load of individual errors at the moment.
GOOOOOOOAAAAAALLLLL!!!! Leicester 0-2 Newcastle
Dummett heads home from a corner!
31 mins: Leicester 0-1 Newcastle
Worried expressions on the faces of the Leicester players - not only because they're playing poorly, but also because Castagne brings down Almiron in the box. The referee (Darren England) points to the...corner flag...VAR has a check and go with the on-field decision.
Newcastle can't create a chance from the resulting set piece.
28 mins: Leicester 0-1 Newcastle
When Newcastle have played on the front foot this season - a rarity, I admit - they have looked good. They do have players who make things happen in the final third. Makes you wonder why they don't trust themselves more often.
Their defence hasn't really been troubled since the fifth minute.
26 mins: Leicester 0-1 Newcastle
Newcastle are playing like the team in the top three and Leicester like the sluggish outfit just abover the relegation zone.
24 mins: Leicester 0-1 Newcastle
Great save from Dubravka!
Fofana must have thought he scored there - from a free kick from the right Fofana gets a header on target but the Newcastle keeper shows great reactions to deny the Leicester man.
23 min: Leicester 0-1 Newcastle
Leicester need to respond quickly and they nearly do as Maddison tries his luck from distance. His shot is well blocked.
GOOOOOOOAAAAAAALLLLL!!! Leicester 0-1 Newcastle
Willock can't stop scoring for Newcastle!
Soyuncu has had a poor game so far and it gets worse as he dithers on the ball 20 yards out and Newcastle's loan player steals it from under his nose before sidefooting it past Schmeichel into the net.
That's no more than the visitors have deserved.
18 mins: Leicester 0-0 Newcastle
Wilson is making some good runs and making the Leicester defenders work in the process - if I'm a Newcastle midfielder I'd be getting the ball to him at every opportunity.
Leicester have been forced backwards the past 10 mins and have lost all their early rhythm
15 mins: Leicester 0-0 Newcastle
Great chance for Newcastle!
Great save from Schmeichel!
Murphy plays in Wilson on the right whose pass into the box is met on the run by Saint-Maximin who hits it low first time. The big Dane gets his feet to the shot that was destined for the corner of the net.
Newcastle are bossing this match at the moment and would be a goal up but for the fine stop.
12 mins: Leicester 0-0 Newcastle
After a passive start Newcastle are now beginning the see more of the ball and ask questions of the hosts. Almiron is barged out of the way by Fofana in the final third and it's another free kick.
The ball comes in from Shelvey and Fernandez's header glaces just wide. From a poor opening to promising signs for Steve Bruce's men.
8 mins: Leicester 0-0 Newcastle
Wilson falls under a challenge from Soyuncu, who hangs out a leg (clumsy) right on the edge of the box (as in millimetres from the penalty area...) and Darren England (the ref) gives a free kick.
The set piece results in a bit of confusion for Leicester but Schmeichel has no save to make.
7 mins: Leicester 0-0 Newcastle
Newcastle seeing a bit more of the ball now - Willock tries to beat Castagne but runs the ball out.
5 mins: Leicester 0-0 Newcastle
I think Newcastle are sitting off Leicester a bit too much - for the third time in five mins Maddison has time and space playing a one-two with Vardy before shooting low just outside the box. Dubravka saves low to his right.
Worrying early signs for the visitors.
4 mins: Leicester 0-0 Newcastle
Newcastle were passive/lacklustre/rubbish (probably a combination of all three) last time out against Arsenal, it will be interesting to see if they can play with a bit of intensity. When they've stepped up and not sat deep this season they've looked a different side.
At the moment they are sitting deep happy to let the host have most of the ball. Maddison once again has time and space to look up and play a dangerous ball into the box that Tielemans heads just over (although it looks like it came off a Newcastle head..).
2 mins: Leicester 0-0 Newcastle
The first attacking forays are from Leicester - Maddison links well with Vardy before floating a ball over the top which is too long for Iheanacho.
1 min: Leicester 0-0 Newcastle
We're under way at the King Power.
Leicester are in their blue kit and Newcastle in their can-be-seen-from-space bright yellow gear.
The teams are out on the pitch
And Jonny Evans didn't made it...Marc Albrighton replaces the centre back, Ricardo will come back into a back four. Not the best of starts for the hosts.
Once again I don't want to worry Leicester fans
BUT Jonny Evans - who has had a great season at the back - has just limped off the pitch after the pre-match warm up.
Will he be able to start? We'll find out in the next five or so minutes...
'Dark forces' and Newcastle
The news surrounding Newcastle is whether they will stay up (barring a disaster for them and miracle for Fulham, they will…) and the latest machinations around the on-off-will it happen takeover.
This week Newcastle owner Mike Ashley claimed “dark forces” are preventing United from becoming the club they should be as he continues to put pressure on the Premier League to allow him to sell to a Saudi Arabian-led consortium.
There’s a lot you can say about that, such as arguing about the lack of human rights in Saudi Arabia, but I’ll leave you to read the article to see what you think.
Steve Bruce speaks...
On starting Joe Willock…
“We’ve brought in Joe, he’s come off the bench two or three times and done well so deserves to start.”
On Leicester City…
“You just have to applaud them, they’ve bought and sold well and they've got a very decent side.”
On the challenge facing them…
“Every game is a tough game is a Premier League, let’s hope we play well and if we do that hopefully that’s good enough.”
Don't want to worry Leicester fans
But looking at the rest of the side's fixtures tonight really is a must-win game for them if they are to make sure of the top-four finish.
The rest of the fixtures are eminently winnable BUT don't offer the eyes-light-up joy that perhaps a home match against Newcastle does.
After tonight they have...
Man Utd (A)
Brendan Rodgers speaks...
On tonight’s match…
“It’s a difficult game, every game is, every team is fighting. The team is focusing and hopefully we can win.”
On the chance to go eight points clear of fifth…
“It’s a big opportunity for us, we are so close with four games to go. We know there’s a lot to do still, but a win tonight would be great.”
On tonight being the fifth anniversary since Leicester lifted the Premier League trophy…
“That was an iconic time, the world of football was taken by Leicester City’s story and we’ve built on from that.”
Iheanacho's now Leicester's main man?
Just a couple of months ago the words goals and Leicester City would make you think of just one man: Jamie Vardy (no explanation needed…)
Now, however, you’d be forgiven for forgetting the Leicester legend and letting Kelechi Iheanacho pop into your head first.
The striker is now ‘Senior Man’ for Brendan Rodgers’ team, having scored 14 goals in his past 15 matches - impressive.
READ how the former Man City man went from turbo-charged teen to 'Senior Man': How Kelechi Iheanacho realised his potential.
The Newcastle side (appropriately) in black and white
NEWCASTLE XI TO FACE LEICESTER: Dubravka, Dummett, Shelvey, Saint-Maximin, Ritchie, Wilson, Krafth, Fernandez, Murphy, Almiron, Willock, SUBS: Gillespie, Clark, Carroll, Joelinton, Gayle, Lewis, Hendrick, Manquillo, Longstaff.
Steve Bruce has made just the two changes from the Xi beaten by Arsenal last time out. Joe Willock is in the starting lineup after being unavailable to face his parent club. Emil Krafth also starts with Ciaran Clark and Sean Longstaff both drop to the bench.
The Leicester side in black and white
LEICESTER XI TO FACE NEWCASTLE: Schmeichel, Fofana, Soyuncu, Evans, Tielemans, Vardy, Maddison, Iheanacho, Pereira, Ndidi, Castagne, SUBS: Ward, Albrighton, Perez, Amartey, Under, Choudhury, Mendy, Praet, Thomas.
Rodgers has made just one change from the side that underwhelmed their way to a 1-1 draw with Southampton last week. Ricardo Pereira is in for Luke Thomas.
I present to you the Newcastle XI
Here be Leicester
Good evening football fans!
If you’re like me then you hate the old footballing cliche that ‘the game isn’t played on paper’. One it’s mind-numbingly obvious (it’s played on grass, in case you were wondering…) and, two, cliches tend to be bland oversimplifications (apols in advance for any that happen to creep into the match blog later…).
BUT ‘on paper’ this is should be a relatively simple three points for the hosts tonight.
Newcastle were played off the park by Arsenal, of all teams, last week, playing like a side that thought they were already safe (they’re seven points clear of the relegation zone with four matches left) and have have lost all six games this season against teams currently in the top four of the table.
Leicester on the other hand have the motivation that victory this evening would take them as many as five points clear of Chelsea to solidify their hold on third place.
If anyone needs any such notions of tonight’s match being a foregone conclusion, however, they only need to look at Leicester’s 1-1 draw at Southampton last Friday. Brendan Rodgers’ side went into the match on the back of four wins in their previous six top-flight matches, Southampton had shown little form and to top it all off were down to 10 men after 10 minutes.
‘On paper’ it was an easy three points for the visitors. But what transpired was an underwhelming Leicester performance and they had to leave St Mary’s happy with just a point.
Perhaps that patchy performance will have shaken Jamie Vardy and Co out of any complacency that may have existed before tonight’s clash, if any existed. But they will definitely be aware now that the 90 minutes that will unfold won’t be played on paper and that if they’re to get the vital three points they’ll have to put in a performance and not rest on the plaudits on pundits.
Stay here for the pre-match news and team lineups and the action, which kicks off at 8.