Newcastle United provided late drama at home to Leicester City this afternoon. Two-goal hero Bruno Guimaraes powered in a late headed goal to give the Magpies all three points, and all but secure their Premier League status. It has been a remarkable turnaround since Eddie Howe took the reins, aided by the first signings of the new ownership regime. It was one of those signings that ultimately decided proceedings today
The game started with a scary collision between Dan Burn and his own goalkeeper, Martin Dubravka. The stopper came rushing out to curb a Patson Daka run, but instead ended up striking his teammate. The defender was down for a few minutes, but was thankfully fine to carry on.
Joelinton’s renaissance as a box-to-box midfielder has been one of the surprises of the season, but his finishing woes continued. His movement was brilliant to arrive unmarked at the back post, but he snatched at his shot and sent it flying into the stand.
Leicester’s opener was straight from the training ground, as they scored from a textbook corner routine. Ayoze Perez ran towards the front post as the low delivery came in. His lay-off found Ademola Lookman in the centre, who hammered his shot at Dubravka. The ball squirmed underneath the goalkeeper to give Leicester the lead.
Perez went close to doubling the lead, having a shot blocked after a fast breakaway. They were left to rue that missed chance when Bruno Guimaraes drew Newcastle level. Burn headed down a corner, and Kasper Schmeichel could not bring the ball under control. Guimaraes poked the ball between Schmeichel’s legs, and initially the goal was disallowed for a foul on the goalkeeper. The VAR was checked, and on replays it was clear the midfielder made no connection with Schmeichel, thus the goal was allowed to stand.
Bruno Guimaraes registers his first-ever Newcastle goal at St James' Park after a long VAR check! 💪
The teams were at a stalemate early in the second half, with neither carving out much in the way of clear-cut chances. Guimaraes showed energy to beat two players, but his ball to Chris Wood was intercepted. Allan Saint-Maximin embarked on a good run but his shot was too tame, and easily picked up by Schmeichel. The game was starting to become sterile, as both sides lacked the imagination to take the initiative.
As the game entered the final quarter of an hour, the crowd were cheering the winning of corners and very little else. At least when facing Leicester, there is every reason to cheer the awarding of a set piece. No team has conceded more goals from set pieces in the Premier League this season than Leicester’s 17.
Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall whipped a cross in for substitute Kelechi Iheanacho, which the striker looked nailed-on to score. Burn intervened with a superb block, and Dubravka leapt on the loose ball to snuff out the chance. It was the closest either side had gone for sometime, and temporarily lifted the atmosphere inside St James’ Park.
Just when it looked like this game would be forgotten immediately following the final whistle, the Magpies swooped. Joe Willock could not be stopped as he charged down the left flank, and his deflected cross found Guimaraes via a deflection. The Brazilian solidified his rapidly growing status as a Tyneside cult hero with an absolute bullet of a header to give Newcastle the injury time winner they craved.
Leicester’s season continues to twirl hopelessly towards mediocrity, while Newcastle’s goes from strength to strength. On the day it was hard to ascertain which of these two teams was the one who had spent the pre-Christmas period battling relegation. With Guimaraes settling so well at St James’ Park, you would be surprised to see this Newcastle side flirting with the drop next season.