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European qualification looks unlikely as lacklustre Leicester suffer 2-1 defeat to Newcastle

Anyone miss Wilfred?

Leicester City v Newcastle United - Premier League Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

Leicester City’s European hopes took a massive hit Saturday when relegation scrappers Newcastle United controversially rode out of the King Power Stadium 2-1 winners.

The Foxes came into the match looking for their third consecutive victory in hopes of keeping pace with 7th place Burnley in the race for potential Europa League qualification.

With Wilfred Ndidi serving the first of a two match suspension, Adrien Silva partnered Vicente Iborra in the middle of the park, while Fousseni Diabate came in for Shinji Okazaki.

The game started off relatively scrappy, only to take a turn for the worst in the 18th minute when Leicester’s defence failed to deal with a routine long ball over the top.

Jonjo Shelvey was given acres of space on the edge of the area, before turning and sending both Wes Morgan and Harry Maguire the wrong way in humiliating fashion and firing the ball in off the elbow of Ben Chilwell to score his first Premier League goal since 2015 to give Newcastle the 1-0 lead.

Things got even worse when Leicester were denied a penalty in the 40th minute after Silva played a delightful pass into the box for Riyad Mahrez, who managed to skip past Paul Dummett, only to be hacked down by the Newcastle left-back for what looked to be a certain penalty.

Unfortunately for the Foxes, referee Stuart Attwell had other ideas and waved play on. In real-time it looked a stonewall penalty, but perhaps Mahrez was looking for contact.

Leicester went into the break down 1-0 and spent a solid 20 minutes trying to find an equalizer. Unfortunately that sustained pressure came to nothing, as the Foxes seemed incapable of putting a good cross into the box.

They were punished for their incompetence in the 75th minute, somehow managing to concede an even more embarrassing goal than the first.

Once again the Foxes were unable to cope with a routine long ball after Diabate hesitated to close down Florian Lejeune. The Frenchman booted the ball up towards Ayoze Pérez. Morgan allowed the ball to bounce, giving Pérez the opportunity to sneak between him and Maguire and lob the ball over Kasper Schmeichel - who was in no man’s land - to give Newcastle the 2-0 lead.

Leicester did get a late consolation goal from Jamie Vardy after Demari Gray put in the Foxes first good cross of the game to Shinji Okazaki at the back post. The Japanese international was able to head it across goal to Vardy for an easy tap-in to make it 2-1, but it was too little to late.

Overall it was an absolutely dreadful performance from Leicester, and just to add insult to injury, Burnley came from behind to beat Watford, meaning the gap between the two sides has grown to 6 points. If the Foxes are to have any hope of European qualification they’ll need to take all 3 points from next weekends visit to Turf Moor, but on the back of today’s performance it doesn’t look likely.