Leicester City 2 Newcastle United 4
- Darren England
Newcastle United took a giant step towards Premier League safety with a remarkable victory at Champions League-chasing Leicester City.
Goals from Joe Willock, Paul Dummett and a Callum Wilson brace looked to have settled matters long before the full-time whistle as the Magpies stormed into a magnificent – and seemingly insurmountable – lead at the King Power Stadium. Had the game ended after 80 minutes, the performance would undoubtedly have gone down as the Magpies’ standout one of the season.
That may well still be true, though there was a little bit of a nervy finale to endure as Marc Albrighton and Kelechi Iheanacho struck for Leicester before Martin Dúbravka flung himself at the feet of Ayoze Pérez to prevent the Foxes grabbing a third – with two minutes of additional time still to play at that point.
Overall, though, United were thoroughly deserving of the victory, and now require just a single point to make absolutely certain of their top-flight status for another season.
The Magpies looked capable of causing a stir at the King Power from the outset. Matt Ritchie arguably should have done better ten minutes in after failing to make anything come of a free kick in a hugely dangerous position, before Fede Fernández nodded another set-piece, this one from Jonjo Shelvey, just wide of the far post. Leicester ‘keeper Kasper Schmeichel then channelled the spirit of his father by brilliantly making himself as big as possible to keep out a low shot from Allan Saint-Maximin – who’d looked certain to convert Wilson’s square.
United were asking all kinds of questions, but they were gift-wrapped their opener after a bizarre error by Çağlar Söyüncü. There was little danger following a hopeful ball forward but the Turkish centre half inexplicably attempted something of a Cruyff turn midway inside his own half and was robbed by the onrushing Willock. There was still plenty for the youngster to do but he took his chance with aplomb, holding off Söyüncü’s last-ditch challenge to slot the ball into the far corner.
The Foxes threatened a swift response with James Maddison seeing a vicious volley blocked and defender Wesley Fofana bringing a fine stop out of Dúbravka after meeting Youri Tielemans’ in-swinging free kick. Before the break, though, they found themselves trailing further, as Dummett got up above Fofana to plant home Ritchie’s inviting corner. That was the left back’s first goal for Newcastle since his memorable late equaliser against Man United at St. James’ Park in 2016.
While Leicester started the second half firmly on the front foot, there really wasn’t any sign that a storm was brewing. Indeed, United looked largely comfortable, and with 64 minutes on the clock, they rubber-stamped their authority by netting a third. Ritchie was again the architect, delivering a searching through pass from deep inside his own half which the Foxes’ Timothy Castagne failed to deal with. Wilson took charge of the situation, striding forward and rounding Schmeichel before tucking the ball away.
And he wasn’t finished there. Ten minutes later, he expertly controlled Miguel Almirón’s pass through the middle before curling a right-footed effort onto the far post. No panic, though, as he picked up the pieces and squeezed home the rebound via the turf.
“Panic” seemed the last thing on the Magpies’ minds at that point, and that still looked to be the case despite Albrighton’s raking strike after 80 minutes. Brendan Rodgers’ side continued to push, though, and they got another goal back as Iheanacho was afforded the time to cut in from the right before powering a low shot into the near corner.
With four minutes of stoppage time added, there remained a glimmer of hope for Leicester, and they almost set up the biggest of grandstand finales as former Magpie Pérez looked to pounce at the far post. Dúbravka’s flying intervention made sure of the visitors’ win, however, with the memories of their 5-0 defeat at the same value last season firmly cast aside.