Newcastle secure CL spot to leave shot-shy Leicester on the brink

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14 Min Read

Newcastle secured a place in next season’s Champions League for the first time since 2003 with a 0-0 draw against Leicester, who had just one shot and are on the brink of relegation.

Eddie Howe’s side guaranteed their top-four spot with a dominant display to leave the visitors, two points from safety, needing to win on the final day of the season at home to West Ham while hoping Bournemouth take something at Everton and Leeds don’t overturn a nine-goal swing by beating Tottenham to stay up.

Newcastle controlled the match yet were frustrated by a combination of Leicester’s defending and the woodwork which they rattled three times on their way to chalking up 23 shots and an xG of 2.05 although were fortunate Bruno Guimaraes wasn’t dismissed early on for a reckless challenge.

Leicester only managed one effort that came in the 92nd minute when Nick Pope sharply saved from Timothy Castagne’s volley to deny them a crucial smash-and-grab victory and leave their survival fate out of their hands.

Player ratings:

Newcastle: Pope (7), Trippier (8), Schar (7), Botman (7), Burn (7), Anderson (7), Guimaraes (7), Longstaff (7), Almiron (7), Wilson (6), Isak (7).

Subs: Gordon (n/a), Saint-Maximin (6), Murphy (6).

Leicester: Iversen (8), Thomas (7), Souttar (8), Faes (7), Evans (7), Castagne (7), Ndidi (7), Soumare (6), Tielemans (6), Vardy (5), Iheanacho (5).

Subs: Barnes (6), Daka (6), Mendy (n/a), Maddison (6).

Player of the Match: Harry Souttar.

How Leicester survived the Newcastle onslaught

Match stats from Newcastle 0-0 Leicester.

Dean Smith opted to change Leicester’s formation to play with three at the back, notably dropping James Maddison and Harvey Barnes, in a bid to keep their first clean sheet in 22 league matches.

Newcastle recorded 14 shots in the opening period while Leicester barely ventured out of their half, having just one touch in the opposition box.

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Bruno Guimaraes booked for high tackle | Should he have seen red?

The visitors, though, felt Guimaraes should have been sent off in only the ninth minute when the studs of the midfielder’s right boot caught the knee of Boubakary Soumare with a yellow card shown and the VAR deciding no further punishment was necessary.

Team news:

  • Newcastle made one change from their 4-1 win over Brighton as Sean Longstaff came in for the injured Joe Willock. Joelinton picked up an injury in the warm-up and was replaced by Elliot Anderson.
  • James Maddison and Harvey Barnes were both benched as Leicester made three changes. Ricardo Pereira also made way as Kelechi Iheanacho, Harry Souttar and Luke Thomas came in.

Newcastle’s best chances came late in the first half as Callum Wilson hooked an effort against a post before seeing his header from the rebound cleared off the line by Wilfred Ndidi.

Miguel Almiron volleyed against the woodwork two minutes later and then Wilson saw another headed effort go off-target with the goal gaping at a corner.

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‘I don’t know how that hasn’t gone in!’ – Bruno heads into post

Smith turned to Maddison at the break but the constant Newcastle attacks continued with Iversen pushing over Isak’s first-time effort from the edge of the box.

Leicester held on for over an hour before changing shape to a back four when Patson Daka and Harvey Barnes came on for Jonny Evans and Jamie Vardy yet it still did nothing to halt the hosts. Guimaraes managed to hit a post from a yard at a corner before Iversen saved with his legs from Sean Longstaff.

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‘What a save!’ Pope denies Castagne late

Leicester finally started to string some passes together late on before Castagne connected with Maddison’s cross, forcing Pope into a diving save.

Howe: We want to bring silverware here

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Eddie Howe praised his Newcastle team for maintaining a high level of performance through the season and wants them to be in a position to compete for silverware in the future

Newcastle boss Eddie Howe to Sky Sports: “It’s a big relief, an amazing night to see the supporters react, it’s incredible.”

What was the pre-season target? “It certainly wasn’t top-four. You always have to hope and dream but we didn’t feel we were ready for that after battling relegation. It was about consolidating and becoming a better team. And not have that flirtation with relegation. The lads have been unbelievable, their mentality, their attitude.”

What does this mean for summer recruitment? “There is a small pool of players we can recruit. We have to recruit wisely, which we have done. This will be our toughest transfer window.”

Is this your career highlight? “It’s probably more recognisable around the country due to the scale but my first challenge in Bournemouth to keep them up was incredibly huge to me and the club. This is on a different scale media-wise and I’m just so grateful to be managing here.

“I want success massively for this football club. The only difficult thing is that although you feel like you’ve achieved something great there is no trophy. We want to bring silverware here in the future.”

Smith: No apology for the way we played

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Leicester manager Dean Smith says it was a frustrating performance to watch from his side but was happy with a vital point to keep the pressure on Everton

Leicester manager Dean Smith to Sky Sports: “We’ve taken it to the last game and made Everton need to win, that’s what we had to do.

“I make no apologies for the way we played, we had to stay in the game. Newcastle have steamrolled some teams here and we couldn’t allow them to with the height and delivery they’ve got. Our discipline was good, they’ve had chances but they have had that against most teams here.

“I don’t think many people would have thought we’d come here and get a result.”

On keeping a clean sheet: “That’s a big thing mentally for the players. It’s the first clean sheet at half-time I’ve had in my seven games. It was important we did that.

“You can’t open up here and go at them. It was a tough watch at times but you could see the players were fighting for it. We had a great chance right at the death.

On the potential red card for Bruno Guimaraes: “It was a really poor challenge, he’s caught him on the thigh. I’m not sure what VAR sees there. From what we’ve seen so far this season that’s been a red card many times.”

On relegation battle: “We’re going to need help. There will be a lot of anxiety for all three teams that are in it. Our job first and foremost is to win against West Ham. I’m sure with our supporters behind us, we can do that. Then it’s out of our hands.

“As long as we can say we gave it our best shot, we’ll fight tooth and nail to stay in there. All we can do is put some pressure on Everton and hopefully we’ve done that.”

‘It is a lot about Eddie Howe’

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Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher reflect on the job Eddie Howe has done to get Newcastle in to the Champions League for the first time in 20 years.

Sky Sports’ Jamie Carragher on Eddie Howe:

“They have spent money but when you actually look at that team on paper it is not a top-four team but it has found itself in the Champions League positions. That for me is a lot about Eddie Howe.

“He has been overlooked by other clubs for other jobs. When he lost his job at Bournemouth, I think a lot of clubs looked at him and Newcastle took the chance.

“I think a lot of people felt Eddie Howe would be the guy who gets them through a year and then they would need someone else to get them into the Champions League and win silverware.

“He is talking about winning silverware and we all believe him because of the job that he has done this season. He has done one of the best jobs in the Premier League.”

Neville: Newcastle must keep values

Eddie Howe celebrates Newcastle securing a Champions League place.

Image: Eddie Howe celebrates Newcastle securing a Champions League place

Sky Sports’ Gary Neville on Eddie Howe:

“I like what they’ve done generally in lots of different ways, we’ve seen many different new owners come into clubs and appoint more fashionable managers, bought more fashionable players.

“I really like the players up at Newcastle, I like Eddie Howe, I like the work they’ve done and I hope they can maintain that humility as they try to progress into the Champions League.

“I hope they don’t stray away from those principles and values they’ve got, it’s really important they keep that.

“It suits the Newcastle community, the fans up there. They want a team they can rely upon, I don’t think they want people coming for a last couple of years of a contract.”

Fantasy Premier League stats

Newcastle vs Leicester FPL stats

Goals None
Assists None
Bonus points Trippier (3pts), Iversen, Burn, Botman (2pts)

Play Fantasy Premier League and see more stats here

What’s next?

The final day of the Premier League season is on May 28 with every game kicking off at 4.30pm. Free match highlights will be published across Sky Sports’ digital platforms shortly after full-time.

Newcastle go to Chelsea on the final day of their season while Leicester host West Ham.

The Premier League relegation battle is going to the final day of the season.

Image: The Premier League relegation battle is going to the final day of the season.

Opta stats: Newcastle continue woodwork woes

  • Newcastle have played out seven goalless draws in the Premier League this season, more than any other side and their highest total in a single Premier League campaign.
  • Newcastle have hit the woodwork 25 times in the Premier League this season (including three times in this game), six times more than any other side.
  • Leicester waited until the 92rd minute to muster their first shot of the game, the latest any side has had to wait for an effort in a Premier League game this season.
  • Newcastle United registered their first clean sheet in 10 Premier League games and only their second shut-out in their last 17, after stringing six clean sheets in a row together directly before this.

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