Newcastle United are within touching distance of retaining their place in the Premier League next season after a hard fought and clinical display against Leicester City today.
Goals from Shelvey and Perez gave the Magpies an unassailable lead at the King Power that meant even a late Vardy goal was nothing but a consolation strike for the Foxes.
The win puts the Magpies into tenth in the table tonight and 10 points above the drop zone, already eclipsing the points tally the black and whites achieved in their last season in this league.
STARTING XI: Dubravka, Yedlin, Lascelles, Lejeune, Dummett, Ritchie, Shelvey, Diame (Hayden, 81), Kenedy (Atsu, 64), Perez, Gayle (Joselu, 70)
‘We have to carry on’ was the unsurprising message from Rafa after the game when asked if Newcastle were now safe. He’s right of course, but it’s conceivable that the 38 points already amassed will be enough.
Today’s contribution to the points tally got off to the perfect start. Quicker out of the blocks Rafa’s side were first to everything and looked quicker in the tackle and with more intent when going forward.
It took just 18 minutes for the Magpies to break the deadlock. Dummett’s ball up the line would find the outstanding Perez who’s driving run at the Leicester back line would end with a square ball into the feet of an unmarked Shelvey on the edge of the box. A faked first effort would then afford him the space to place the ball past Schmeichel in the Leicester goal via the smallest of deflections. 1-0 Newcastle United.
Newcastle could have already been one ahead by this point after a second attempt at a corned from Kenedy was flicked towards goal by Perez only to be pushed wide of the post for another corner.
The goal also managed to quieten those annoying paper clappers in the home end, not that you could hear much of them above the superb travelling Newcastle fans in any case. Outstanding support once again.
Then a moment of controversy. Gayle chased down Maguire and was guilty of holding the Leicester defender to stop him turning away with the ball. Mahuiree’s reaction however was nothing short of a disgrace. A push / punch into the neck of Newcastle’s number 9 had to be a red card. You just can’t do that on a football pitch. Well, it would seem you can. Stuart Attwell brandished a yellow only to Maguire, then one for Lascelles for his complaint about the decision.
During this contest Leicester would have two shouts for a penalty. Most focus after the game would focus on a challenge from Dummett on Mahrez which, on replays, saw Paul get his studs on the ball before catching the knee of the Leicester player who was already on his way to the floor. No pen. Perhaps they should have been more bothered about a first half incident that saw Diame kick Vardy in the jewels in the penalty area. With the ball already having been cleared there was little focus on the event but had it been seen by the officials Newcastle would have had few complaints.
That bit of luck was perhaps balance for the earlier Maguire injustice and into the second half at 1-0 the team would go.
Newcastle were relentless in their desire into this period too.
A couple of outstanding runs from Kenedy who, in our view, should be signed at almost any cost, he’s that good. A free kick just over from Gayle. Newcastle were getting closer to their and the games second.
The goal when it did come was a beaut. An enormous clearance from Lejeune was inexplicably not dealt with by Morgan and ‘England’s’ Maguire (what a joke). Perez, spotting Schmeichel off his line, lobbed the ball over the keeper form fully 25 yards with the outside of his right boot. A smashing goal and well deserved for a very accomplished performance.
And whilst Leicester would get one back in the last ten minutes from Vardy, Newcastle had done the hard work, and a combination of good defending and goalkeeping would see the Magpies through.
What a win. What a three points. Start planning for next season guys and gals, Rafa has!