Match Report. Newcastle United 0 Leicester City 0

22 May 23

Newcastle United secured Champions League qualification for the first time in 20 years following a goalless draw against Leicester City on Monday night.

Newcastle hit the woodwork three times during their penultimate Premier League fixture of the 2022/23 campaign at St. James’ Park, with Callum Wilson and Miguel Almirón both clipping the post before the half-time whistle before Bruno Guimarães’ close-range header hit the goal frame after the restart.

Despite dominating in possession, recording 23 shots, the Magpies were unable to find a breakthrough in front of goal, with Nick Pope vitally saving Timothy Castagne's stoppage-time volley to secure the all-important point which sealed a top-four finish in front of a delighted home crowd.

Eddie Howe, who recieved a Premier League Manager of the Season nomination, made two changes from the side which claimed an impressive 4-1 win against Brighton & Hove Albion four days prior as Sean Longstaff returned to the starting line-up, replacing the injured Joe Willock, while Elliot Anderson was handed his second Premier League start of the 2022/23 season although the 20-year-old was a late introduction after Joelinton suffered an injury in the warm-up.

With only one point required to secure Champions League qualification since the 2002/03 campaign under Sir Bobby Robson’s management, the Magpies - backed by a raucous St. James’ Park which involved an incredible pre-match display from Wor Flags - began in bright fashion although Guimarães was fortunate to escape an early red card as the Brazilian caught Boubakary Soumaré with a high foot to the Frenchman’s leg.

Almirón, targeting a 12th Premier League goal of the season, darted in from the left flank before the Paraguayan’s effort curled wide of the left-hand post.

With the half-time whistle approaching, Wilson went agonisingly close to scoring twice in succession as his initial close-range strike hit the post after Leicester goalkeeper Daniel Iversen dropped the ball into the 31-year-old’s path before the following header was cleared off the line by Wilfred Ndidi.

Newcastle continued their push for a breakthrough before the half-time break as Almirón’s volley struck the right-hand post after the South American forward latched onto Fabian Schär’s header from Kieran Trippier’s lofted pass into the penalty area before the loose ball fell into Alexander Isak’s path, who struck a fierce attempt over the crossbar.

Wilson was unable to convert on the stroke of half-time as the Coventry-born forward connected with Trippier’s in-swinging corner, after Iversen misjudged the flight of the teasing cross, but could only head the ball over the bar.

In the second-half, Newcastle continued to dictate possession as Isak went close to sending the hosts ahead, connecting with Almirón’s pass before his ferocious first-time attempt was turned around the post by Iversen.

Schär, who scored Newcastle’s first Premier League goal of the 2022/23 campaign against Nottingham Forest, attempted an audacious strike from distance but the Swiss defender’s shot flew over the target.

United hit the post for a third time shortly after as Trippier’s dangerous corner was flicked towards the far post by Wout Faes but Guimarães, situated in the six-yard area, could only head the ball against the right-hand post.

Longstaff took his turn in front of goal as the North Shields-born midfielder’s low strike towards goal was blocked by Iversen before Almirón’s first-time volley was directed over the crossbar.

With five minutes of stoppage-time awarded, Pope produced a vital save to deny Timothy Castagne as the Belgian defender’s volley, from James Maddison’s inviting cross, was importantly pushed away by the England international before the ball was hooked to safety by Schär.

The full-time whistle was met with a chorus of delirious cheers as the draw confirmed Newcastle's spot in the 2023/24 Champions League group stages.

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