- Visitors dominate hosts in impressive display for all, but secure Premier League status for next season
- Lackluster Leicester upgraded and outclassed to create doubts over superior finish
isLeicester won the Premier League trophy five years ago on Friday night, with Andrea Bocelli on an emotional night at King Power Stadium. But after an outright defeat by relegation-threatened Newcastle, Brendan Rodgers is hoping now is not the time to say goodbye to their Champions League aspirations this season.
It was a nightmare experience for Leicester, who have now lost as many home games as Championship-linked West Bromwich Albion, and produced their worst performance of the season at the worst possible time.
They remain in third place, with fate in their hands, but made Newcastle appear as European heavyweights in an evening of retribution in front of President Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha.
Newcastle have virtually guaranteed another season at this level after an irresistible display, fully capitalizing on Jonny Evans’ withdrawal from Leicester ahead of kick-off with a foot injury.
When Newcastle play like this, manager Steve Bruce must feel like tearing his graying hair at the inconsistency of his squad, which was so tame in their previous game against Arsenal.
Newcastle are now in 13th place, 12 points ahead of the last three, and Bruce had to know it would be his night when defender Paul Dummett scored his first goal in 132 games, dating back to January 2016.
There were also great performances from goal scorers Joe Willock and Callum Wilson, as Leicester were in tatters, with Evans’ absence of the hugely damaging rear three.
Evans hampered shortly before kick-off and Leicester never really recovered, with Caglar Soyuncu and Wesley Fofana both struggling without their experienced teammate by their side.
Rodgers will need instant recovery with Leicester still set to play Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham in the league this season.
Srivaddhanaprabha, the Thailand-based chairman of Leicester, was present for his first game since February 2020 and will have left the stadium in a daze.
At this critical point in the season, when the stakes are so high, everything revolves around the key moments. In the space of six minutes, Rodgers saw the best and the worst of his Leicester team.
It was Kasper Schmeichel who made a vital contribution to Leicester in the 16th minute, brilliantly saving Allan Saint-Maximin.
Schmeichel was exposed after Wilson escaped Leicester’s defense but moved away from his line to block Saint-Maximin’s shot from six yards away.
Bruce turned around in the technical area with his hands on his head, but was celebrating six minutes later after a costly mistake from Soyuncu.
The Turkey international was completely unaware of Willock’s proximity as he scooped a loose ball from Dummett, but lost possession of it and the Newcastle midfielder stepped up to the goal to beat Schmeichel .
Willock has now scored in the last four league games, becoming the first Newcastle player to record the feat since Papiss Cisse in April 2012.
Leicester responded, and this time it was Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka with the right reflexes, fending off a powerful header from Fofana.
Still, Leicester looked nervous, frequently giving the ball away and struggling to regain control of the game, with Newcastle growing more and more confident.
A second goal seemed inevitable and came 11 minutes before half-time, with a shot of brutal simplicity.
Matt Ritchie’s corner slipped through Leicester’s defense and Dummett climbed over Fofana to propel a header into the top corner, despite Schmeichel’s best efforts to keep him away. It was his first goal in over five years and a moment to remember.
Newcastle scored a third goal in the 64th minute, again due to Leicester’s dismay, with Timothy Castagne’s poor back pass allowing Wilson to draw Schmeichel before finding the net empty.
Wilson struck again at close range after his initial shot came back from the post and Leicester was all over the place.
They produced a late comeback, with a striking strike from Marc Albrighton and another goal for Kelechi Iheanacho.
‘Carry on’ implored Schmeichel as Leicester bombarded Newcastle’s goal, but they have now lost eight home games.
With a visit to United on Tuesday night and an FA Cup final next weekend, Rodgers must quickly recover his shocked players.