Newcastle United have qualified for the Champions League. The 0-0 draw with Leicester City that got them back into a tournament they last graced 18 years ago will not live long in the memory. But this season will certainly be remembered by Magpies fans for years to come. However, like two ships passing in the night, the draw could have devastating ramifications for Leicester. The Foxes find themselves two points away from safety with one game left to play.
A stuttering start to the half was defined by Bruno Guimaraes’ high-boot challenge on Boubakary Soumare. The popular Magpies midfielder escaped with a yellow card despite making studs-up contact with the Leicester City man. VAR had a good look and said nothing doing, but that didn’t quieten the boo boys in the crowd.
Guimaraes got back to what he was supposed to be doing minutes later, when he slid a tidy through-ball to Callum Wilson. The England striker fluffed his lines, failing to reach the ball, but it was a moment of rare threat in the early stages.
Newcastle did improve measurably though. Miguel Almiron cut inside and fired a shot over from distance. Elliott Anderson then curled a teasing effort into the hands of Daniel Iversen. Newcastle’s best chance of the half came from a corner, when Dan Burn beat the goalkeeper to the delivery and headed it to Wilson. The striker managed to hit the post before his second attempt was cleared off the line by Wilfred Ndidi.
Newcastle went close again just before half time. Fabian Schar headed the ball into the path of Almiron, who powered his shot onto the post before Alexander Isak fired the rebound wide.
The second half saw Leicester retreat further into their shell, with Eddie Howe’s side dominating the ball and camping out in the Foxes’ half. It was a disappointingly tame performance from a team that should have been fighting for their Premier League lives. The match was in danger of becoming a walkover, even if the goalless scoreline did not yet reflect Newcastle’s dominance.
Almiron found Isak on the edge of the box with a square ball. The striker curled his shot and Iversen reacted quickly to powerfully palm the strike over his bar. It was another moment of seat-of-the-pants brinkmanship from Leicester.
Harvey Barnes and Patson Daka were brought on by Dean Smith as he aimed to change things from the dugout. Jamie Vardy and Johnny Evans were the men replaced, with the manager opting for a more attacking bent.
Anderson and Sean Longstaff had late chances foiled, with the latter in particular drawing a great save from Iversen. Newcastle poured forward with a determination to get the job done in style, no matter how unwilling Leicester were as participants.
Smith’s side need some help from Everton on the final day to stay in the Premier League. The Toffees play Bournemouth at home on the final day while Leicester welcome West Ham United to the King Power Stadium. Such final day nerve-jangling was once part of the Newcastle experience. But now they can start looking forward to taking their place at the top table of European football. For Leicester, who once graced the Champions League as Premier League titlists, it’ll be a long time before they’re back there. It may even be a while before they’re back here.
*18+ | BeGambleAware | Odds Subject To Change