Leicester City 1 – 0 Newcastle United : A Shinjo Okazaki beauty midway through the first half settles a hard fought encounter between two sides each desperate for 3 points for decidedly different reasons.
Leicester City’s title run rolls on
3 points won against Newcastle meant that Leicester City regained their 5 point lead at the top of the table over nearest rivals Tottenham Hotspur.
Rafa Benitez’s appointment in the opposition dugout made what was previously a routine match far more difficult yet 25 minutes into the game and Leicester City scored what would eventually turn out being the winning goal. A Riyad Mahrez’s freekick from wide was only half cleared as the ball fell to Albrighton outside the box. With his first touch, Albrighton swung a teasing ball into the box. Steven Taylor’s attempt to head the ball clear only managed to find Vardy. His header across goal was acrobatically met with a bicycle kick from his striker partner Okazaki whose effort found the bottom corner.
While the first half was a fairly scrappy contest that Leicester edged, the Foxes had to show their defensive resolve as a spirited Newcastle side pressed hard for an equalizer. Time and time again Leicester players put their bodies on the line in a sterling defensive effort that reduced Newcastle to half chances.
Champions find a way to win even when they are not playing well and with win, Leicester City increasingly look like champions-elect.
“30 games down, 8 games to go.”
Different Boss Yet Same Old Newcastle
The biggest news from Tyneside this week was the arrival of Rafa Benitez as the new manager of Newcastle United.
Having managed the likes of Ronaldo, Benzema and Bale a few months ago, now Rafa Benitez was now surrounded by Vurnon Anita, Alekandar Mitrovic and Jonjo Shelvey. Watching the first half, Benitez must have been wondering what he had gotten himself into as Newcastle gave the possession away cheaply time and time again.
While things did pick up in the second half as Newcastle searched in vain for an equalizer, there just seemed to be a lack of real conviction and belief in the team that they could find that elusive goal. Things kept breaking down in the final third as the Magpies just lacked the killer touch to fashion a clear cut chance.
A comical moment in the first half effectively summed up Newcastle United this season – a great deal of promise but no end result. A promising foray forward by Newcastle found Wijnaldum on the edge of the box. His lofted ball was brilliantly chested down by Mitrovic but before he could pull the trigger, he was tripped by his own team mate Sissoko.
With just 9 games to secure Newcaste’s Premier League status, Benitez has a real job on his hands.
New and Improved Leicester City
Gone are the days where matches involving Leicester City was a guarantee of excitement, goals and entertainment.
Having started the season unable to stop scoring, Claudio Ranieri has transformed his Leicester City into a gritty outfit for the title run. Their latest victory over Newcastle was Leicester City’s third 1-0 win in their last four games. With securing points the paramount concern, this new and improved Leicester City bodes well as the pressure begins to mount.
While Ranieri might continue to play down Leicester’s chances by claiming that Europa League is the target for the Foxes, there is no discounting them in the title race.
With Leicester City’s final game at Stamford Bridge, Claudio Ranieri just might enjoy watching Chelsea forming a guard of honour for his players come May.