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Newcastle secure Champions League qualification with draw against Leicester

Newcastle secure Champions League qualification with draw against Leicester

Newcastle United were held to a frustrating goalless draw by Leicester City at St James’ Park, but the result ensured they secured Champions League qualification for next season.

Having dispatched Brighton & Hove Albion on Thursday, the hosts knew just one point from their final two matches would be enough to get the job done.

However, they took nothing for granted, dominating Dean Smith’s lowly Leicester from the get-go in what turned out to be a very one-sided contest.

Despite controlling proceedings, Newcastle lacked cutting edge in the final third, which is seldom said about Eddie Howe’s rampant Magpies.

Newcastle established a foothold in the game, but they could not find the breakthrough in the opening period, and not for the lack of trying.

Leicester’s defensive set-up allowed Newcastle to roam the pitch unfettered, and it nearly proved costly for the Foxes when Callum Wilson and Almiron struck the woodwork within two minutes.

However, the relegation strugglers held on to head into the half-time interval with the scores level.

Leicester’s negative opening period seemed a deliberate ploy by Smith to keep the hosts at bay as the Foxes emerged after the restart eager to gain a foothold in the contest. 

However, their surge did not last long, with Newcastle reestablishing their authority on proceedings as Isak saw a fierce strike tipped over the bar by Daniel Iversen.

That reprieve did little to spark the visitors into life, who remained somewhat content to sit back and soak up the pressure in the final knockings of the game.

Newcastle continued their search for a late winner, but luck was not on their side as the woodwork came to the Foxes’ rescue for a third time. 

Bruno Guimaraes was presented with a golden opportunity to snatch a late win that Newcastle’s performance deserved, but the Brazilian failed to convert from point-blank range.

Both sides eventually settled for a share of the spoils. The result flattered Leicester, who remain two points adrift of safety going into the final weekend.

A tale of contrasting stories for both sides

Newcastle have booked a seat amongst Europe’s elite for the first time in two decades.

It is a mind-boggling achievement that will send shock waves across Europe, considering they have barely dipped into the vast wealth of their oil-rich owners. 

The Magpies are well on their way to establishing themselves as a powerhouse in the English top flight.

A Champions League place will allow the Tyneside outfit to attract the best players to St James’ Park, and their exciting project bears the mark of one that could be hard to turn down.

The Saudi-based owners could not have hoped for a better debut campaign, and the Newcastle faithful will gaze into a bright future with delightful optimism.

For Leicester, they hoped Smith’s appointment would spark an upturn in fortunes, but they are staring down the abyss with the prospect of relegation now more likely than ever.

The Leicester faithful will be biting their nails ahead of their final Premier League fixture against West Ham United at the King Power Stadium.

Nothing but maximum points against the Hammers will do to keep their rapidly fading hopes of survival alive.

But even then, they need Leeds United and Everton to falter at the death to stay afloat.

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