Leicester City 4 Newcastle United 0
- Peter Bankes
Newcastle United’s survival hopes were dealt a blow as Leicester City produced a commanding performance to consign the Magpies to a heavy defeat at the King Power Stadium.
After a fairly even opening half an hour, United fell behind to Youri Tielemans’ penalty, awarded after Jamaal Lascelles was adjudged to have fouled James Maddison following a moment of carelessness at the back.
A simple Patson Daka finish early into the second half put daylight between the teams, with quick-fire efforts from Tielemans and Maddison adding a touch of gloss to the scoreline and inflicting damage to the Magpies’ delicate goal difference.
Much earlier on, it was actually United who had the game’s first sight of goal, thanks largely to Leicester’s Jonny Evans pulling up with a hamstring injury deep inside his own half. With the Northern Irish defender still on the pitch, Callum Wilson picked up the pieces and found Joelinton, who slid the ball through for Miguel Almirón. The pass was delivered to the Paraguayan’s favoured side but he could only fire harmlessly into the side-netting.
After Evans was substituted, the Foxes looked a little unsure of themselves at the back and, after Wilfred Ndidi was caught napping, Wilson took aim and saw a deflected strike flash wide. From the resultant corner, Fabian Schär’s close-range volley was blocked by Luke Thomas. From a United perspective, it was a bright start, but sadly it did not prove indicative of what was to come.
Leicester gradually started to feel their way into the game. A Maddison free kick cleared the wall but dropped just over the crossbar with Martin Dúbravka seemingly beaten. Another Maddison set-piece caused a similar moment of panic, as Wilson inadvertently helped the ball on and Ndidi saw a back-post header palmed away by Dúbravka at the vital moment.
After a quieter spell, the game came back to life shortly before the break. United tried to play their way out from the back, but Jonjo Shelvey came under pressure and, after Leicester regained possession, Lascelles stuck out a leg and Maddison tumbled to the ground. The Foxes wide-man made the most of it, but the spot kick was given and Tielemans converted it emphatically.
Coming out for the second half trailing, the Magpies looked purposeful without necessarily threatening Leicester. They did register an effort on target, through Joelinton, but their cause soon became all the harder. With 57 minutes played, Maddison played a clever dinked ball through United’s backline and Harvey Barnes, having held his line, found himself in on goal. He could have gone for glory himself but he instead chose to square for Daka, who was practically able to walk the ball into an empty net.
Following a double substitution by Eddie Howe, which saw Ryan Fraser and Jacob Murphy enter the fray, the Magpies nearly pulled one back through Shelvey, who saw a half-volley from 25 yards skim off the ground, bounce off Ndidi and loop over the crossbar. Then, with just over ten minutes to play, they were nearly gift-wrapped a way back into the game as Timothy Castagne’s heavy back-pass got caught in the wind and looked set to cross the line, only for Kasper Schmeichel to avert the danger at the last second.
Just a minute later, though, the Foxes put the game to bed. Again United ceded possession in dangerous territory, and Daka picked out Maddison in the centre of the penalty area. With Newcastle players getting sucked towards the ball, the winger coolly picked out the unmarked Tielemans, who produced a thumping finish.
And it soon went from bad to worse, as Brendan Rodgers’ side added a fourth. Joelinton was robbed of possession midway inside the Newcastle half and, within a flash, the ball was in the back of the net once more, as Maddison and Daka exchanged passes on the edge of the penalty area before the former found the far corner with a left-footed drive.