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Premier League Match Report: Newcastle United 2 - 1 Leicester City

Newcastle nick a truly awful match at the death

Newcastle United v Leicester City - Premier League Photo by George Wood/Getty Images

Leicester City dropped all three points to Newcastle United on Sunday morning at St. James Park in a candidate for the worst match of the season. An Ademola Lookman first-half opener was cancelled by a Bruno Guimarães. A dire second half saw no goalmouth action until deep into injury time, when Guimarães headed home from close range to seal the win for the Geordies.

Possibly the most damning indictment yet.

If you were wondering if the Foxes would prioritize one competition over the other, today’s starting XI should settle that matter as manager Brendan Rodgers made eight changes to the side that beat PSV Eindhoven on Sunday: Kasper Schmeichel (C), James Justin, Daniel Amartey, Çağlar Söyüncü, Luke Thomas, Youri Tielemans, Nampalys Mendy, Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, Ayoze Perez, Ademola Lookman, and Patson Daka.

The teamsheet suggested that we might be in for a chaotic afternoon and it took 30 seconds for that impression to be confirmed. A poor pass from Mendy gave the ball away in a dangerous position and Amartey was forced to take a yellow card to snuff out the attack. It was going to be one of those days, wasn’t it?

Newcastle had the better of the opening exchanges but both sides were struggling to string passes together. There was a great deal of charging up and down the pitch while both keepers were able to enjoy the lovely spring afternoon untroubled by any shots of note.

That all changed on 20 minutes when Leicester scored from a corner. I’ll give you a moment to digest that...deep breath...let’s go through it. In a move straight from the training ground, Dewsbury-Hall sent a low ball in toward the near post. Ayoze turned it out toward the penalty spot, where an unmarked Lookman met it and blast past Martin Dubravka.

Newcastle United v Leicester City - Premier League
And by “past”, I mean “through”
Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

The lead lasted only a scant ten minutes. Newcastle enjoyed a spell of frenzied possession after the City goal. A ball in from the right flank pinballed in the area and to the feet of Schmeichel. The Leicester captain attempted to smother it with his legs but never brought it under control. Bruno Guimarães saw the opportunity and poked it over the line. VAR took a look but there was nothing in it to overturn and the match was level.

Newcastle United v Leicester City - Premier League
Speaking of “through,” it’s like deja vu all over again.
Photo by George Wood/Getty Images

The last fifteen minutes of the half resembled a flyweight boxing match. The action was furious but there was none of it had any impact. The hosts were just slightly on top, but 1-1 scoreline at the half was an eminently fair reflection of the proceedings.

Look, I’m going to level with you here. Nothing happened in the second half. Leicester had the ball the entire time but never looked anything like scoring. Madders, Iheanacho, and Barnes all came on as substitutes, but nothing happened. Neither side troubled the other keeper. It was terrible, terrible football. There was nothing to talk about. Nothing worth watching, for that matter.

Then, deep into the four minutes of injury time, Justin turned the ball over deep in Newcastle territory. Allan Saint-Maximin tore down the flank and into the area. His low cross deflected off of Amartey and into the path of Guimarães, who headed home from close range with the last touch of the match in the 95th minute.

You know how some matches are described as a “good match for the neutrals?” This was the opposite of that. Both sides were completely hapless in the opposing half. It was just excruciating to watch. The commentators described this match as an opportunity for these players to put themselves into the reckoning for the Europa Conference League semi-final against Roma. Other than Lookman, who was likely already in Rodgers’ thoughts, it seems unlikely that anyone made a positive impression on the gaffer.

And, weirdly, we didn’t concede to Dan Burn from a corner. It really was a strange day.

The defeat leaves us 9th on the table with 40 points from 30 matches. Anyone who was looking at the games in hand thinking “we could make a run” should probably let that dream go. We’re off to Goodison on Wednesday to face Everton and return home next Saturday to face local rivals Aston Villa.