Newcastle United 0-3 Leicester City
Newcastle United once more pressed the self destruct button in gifting Leicester City two goals at St James Park.
New Year, same old problems for Bruce and his men then, who lacked shape, purpose and even the ball for most of the first 45 minutes of this one.
Two assist for Florian Lejeune, the first a pass across the box to Perez to slot home to make it 1-0, the second giving the ball away deep inside his own half allowing Maddison to be set free in acres of space to fire home a wonderful effort. Hopeless!
Had Jeolinton finishes, as he should have, when played clean through on 25 minutes, it would have only papered over the cracks of the gulf in quality and play of these two sides.
And having already surrendered the game, on the evidence of the first half, United then played virtually the entire second half with only 10 men after FOUR players went off injured within two minutes either side of half time. Any slim hope of a comeback gone within seconds of the break.
In truth, anyone thinking there would have been a comeback is taking a flight of fancy.
To top it of there was a third goal, and another stunner from Leicester, with Choudhury going 'top bins' with just a couple of minutes left.
Three-nil then the final score.
The two sides - worlds apart.
STARTING XI: Dubravka, Manquillo (Krafth, 45+3), Schar (47), Fernandez, Lejeune, Willems (Yedlin, 44), Hayden, Shelvey (S Longstaff, 45), Almiron, Muto, Joelinton
A couple of changes for United as Manquillo returned for Yedlin whilst there was also a rare run out for Yoshinori Muto who started in place of the rested Carroll.
The big news for Leicester was the continued absence of Vardy do misses a second game completely following the birth of his baby daughter.
Newcastle had, of course, lost the reverse fixture in rather humiliating fashion conceding five without reply. And with Bruce talking about utilising the transfer window if possible to change the style of play in the coming months, most Newcastle fans would be delighted to see the brand of football now in place with Leicester under Rogers.
Instead, today was another example of Rafa’s organisation with perhaps the shackles lifted a little at the other end.
And it was Leicester started with the greater intent, and could have been ahead as soon as in the third minute with only a good point blank save stopping Evans from nodding home an early Foxes corner.
Next it would be Tielemans to warm the palms of the Newcastle keeper who could only push his fierce effort back into the centre of the goal and was grateful to see Fernandez get to the rebound just ahead of ex Mag Perez.
Newcastle, sitting incredibly deep for this one, seemed content on feeding off scraps with the hope of releasing Muto, Almiron or Joelinton.
But the plan almost worked on 25 minutes when Shelvey set Joelinton clean through. But, with only Schmeichel to beat, the striker would see his initial effort saved. And even when the rebound looped into the air the big man couldn’t sort his feet out to head into an unguarded net and could only head the ball back towards the Leicester keeper. A huge chance gone.
Disaster on 35 minutes.
You couldn’t make it up to be honest…
For the third game running Newcastle yet again just had to press the self destruct button. On this occasion Lejeune inexplicably passing the ball straight across the box directly to Perez who strode into the box to side foot home.
4 minutes later….
Disaster on 39 minutes.
Lejeune passing the ball directly to a Leicester player who could then pass square to Maddison who, totally unmarked, unleashed a rocket into Dubravka’s top left hand corner. Nothing the keeper could do about it, but a chance that should never been allowed to happen.
Horrendous. Painful. Disgusting.
2-0 down in 4 minutes and game over.
Into the second half and as if things couldn’t get any worse Newcastle were down to 10 men, only not in the fashion you’d expect.
Having taken off Manquillo and Willems in the last minute of the first half, Newcastle were forced into a third substitution at the break with Sean Longstaff coming on for Shelvey who also picked up an injury.
Again it would be Dubravka who would be the difference between Leicester stretching their lead and United holding on. A long ball from Tielemans allowed Perez to race clear and square to the unmarked Iheanacho. But Dubravka stood strong to save not just Iheanacho’s initial effort, but the follow up (twice) from Perez, who looked sure to score on the hour mark.
There was at least some fight from those left on the pitch in black and white. And whilst Leicester may have dropped to second gear but there was some spirit shown at least.
There was time however for Choudhury to put the icing on the cake for Leicester who will have had few easier days in top flight football.
For Newcastle the fixtures keep coming. The football is abysmal. The trap door creeks open once more.