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Newcastle qualify for Champions League but Leicester somehow claim vital point

Newcastle qualify for the Champions League, a competition they hadn’t been in since 2003, but Leicester somehow claim a vital point.

Coming into this game, we knew that the two teams in action were fighting for very different things at opposite ends of the table.

Leicester needed to win to have any hope of avoiding relegation, while Newcastle only had to secure one point to qualify for Champions League football for the first time in 20 years.

A packed St James’ Park was ready for the penultimate match of matchweek 37.

Newcastle would not only secure a Champions League spot if they won, but a victory would also take them to 72 points, their highest Premier League total since 1996.

The team had already scored 67 goals this season, which is the most they have achieved in a Premier League campaign since 2002.

There is still room for improvement on the defensive side though.

Newcastle have failed to keep a clean sheet in each of their past nine Premier League matches.

They have only kept one clean sheet out of 16 league matches.

For now, their primary concern was to secure European football.

Leicester are still in danger of being relegated to the second tier for the 12th time in their history.

It would equal the record held by Birmingham City in English football.

The Foxes have lost all nine league matches this season against the teams currently in the top five of the table.

They have gone 21 consecutive Premier League matches without a clean sheet since beating West Ham 2-0 on the 12th of November.

So, how did Newcastle v Leicester play out?

9 minutes in, Guimaraes made a silly, needless high tackle on the knee of Soumare, with a lack of force said to be saving him from getting a red, but it was borderline.

27 minutes in and it was a second card for Newcastle, yet they hardly had to do any defending. Isak slid in on Castagne.

After a slow start in terms of chance, the ball clipped the post then was cleared on the line with Leicester only just about surviving.

Iversen came to claim a cross but dropped it under pressure from Burn. Wilson put his effort against the post and Evans could only clear it back to him. He looped a header that was cleared off the line by Ndidi.

It happened again moments later on 43 minutes, Leicester so lucky as a loose ball in the box was struck by Almiron from 12 yards, with Iversen beaten but the ball smacked back off the woodwork. Isak attempted to the rebound but he hit waywardly off target.

On the verge of half time, Trippier whipped in a sensational corner, Iversen swiped at thin air, Wilson was free on the angle with an empty net to head into but he headed over the bar.

Sky Sports’ Lewis Jones: “What does Dean Smith do now? He will argue his tactics have worked as Leicester are in the game but surely this depressing style of football against such a dangerous team like Newcastle can’t hold out for another 45. Leicester need to win. When does he turn to Barnes and Maddison?”

The second half started with a penalty appeal, a short corner being played to Almiron who took the shot on from 20 yards and Tielemans got himself out quickly to block and the ball hit his arm, but his hands are down by his side.

It was in the 64th minute that Leicester managed to win a corner. But Schar cleared it at the near post. A rare appearance for the foxes to be in the opposition’s half.

With 20 minutes remaining, the post was struck again. The third time this match that Newcastle have hit the woodwork as the corner was flicked on by Wout Faes and Bruno Guimaraes has somehow not put it in at the back post.

Leicester had the better of spells in the closing stages, the first effort at goal coming in the 92nd minute.

Pope had to react with Maddison and Tielemans played it short with the delivery finding Castagne about 10 yards out, steering it towards goal and Pope palmed it away superbly.

However, the full time whistle blew and Newcastle secured their place in next season’s Champions League.

Leicester cliched a point but they have some work to do to confirm their safety in the Premier League on the final day.

Newcastle goalkeeper Nick Pope to Sky Sports:Β “[The fans have] been unbelievable all year. To pay them back to get over the line it means everything.”

[On his injury-time save] “It’s always nice to be involved, I’m happy to get another clean sheet.

“To do it here, in front of these fans, we’ve worked so hard. To be there next season, it means everything.”

Newcastle full-back Kieran Trippier to Sky Sports: “It means everything. I took a risk when I first arrived but I always believed in every decision I made.

“We’ve bounced back well, we’ve recovered well. The club has been through a tough moment but now we’re reaping the rewards.”

Newcastle midfielder Sean Longstaff speaking to Sky Sports: “I can’t put it into words to be honest. If you told us two years ago this was going to happen, we wouldn’t have believed you.

“We’ve beaten Juventus here 1-0 [in the Champions League], you see it on old DVDs.

“To be a part of this, I’m buzzing to be fair.”

Leicester defender Harry Souttar speaking to Sky Sports:Β “We’ll take the point here. We know it is a tough place to come. What they have done to teams [this season], the crowd really helps them a lot.

“They normally make a fast start so we knew we had to stay in the game. But we also knew that we would get a chance towards the end of the game bringing our attacking players on – and that’s what happened. It was a great save from the keeper.

“Ultimately we rode our luck at times, they had a few chances and our keeper was magnificent again. It’s a point, we’ll take that, go to the last day and we’ve got to be positive.”

On when he found out he was in the starting XI:Β “Today. We did tactics and shape throughout the week, but everyone kind of gets involved in that. Today it was about getting the mind on it. I hadn’t played for a few weeks but I was delighted to be in the starting XI. Like I said, we take the point and go to the last day.”

“Ultimately we didn’t get the goal that we wanted. But defensively the low block worked well. I thought we frustrated them.

“They did have chances, every team is going to have chances in football, but I thought we kept them relatively quiet, and we could have nicked it at the end.”

On the final game of the season:Β “We’ve got to win the game. I know it’s cliche, but we just have to focus on ourselves. That’s all we can do and let the rest take care of itself.

“We’re going feeling positive, we’ve picked up a result and a clean sheet, which, let’s be fair, we haven’t had enough of this season.

“We go there with a positive mindset for the three points and whatever happens, happens.”

Sky Sports’ Jamie Carragher: β€œI’m delighted for them. They have been impressive with their energy and the football they play. St James’ Park is a joy to go to as a neutral. I think they are two or three years ahead of where I thought they’d be.”

Sky Sports’ Gary Neville: β€œWell done to everyone. When the owners came in, I expected a lavish spending spree, but it’s been bold and measured. They recruited good characters and personalities.”

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