Leicester’s top-flight status hangs in the balance

Knowing that they would need at least three points from their final two games to maintain any chances of remaining in the Premier League next season, Dean Smith’s Leicester City travelled to Newcastle on Monday evening. The Magpies needed at least a draw to guarantee their participation in the UEFA Champions League – so there was plenty at stake for both sides.

NEW: Pope; Burn, Botman, Schar, Trippier; Anderson, Guimaraes, Longstaff; Isak, Wilson, Almiron

LEI: Iversen; Thomas, Faes, Evans, Souttar, Castagne; Soumare, Tielemans, Ndidi; Vardy, Iheanacho

Newcastle were lucky not to be reduced to ten men in the early stages, as Bruno Guimaraes was penalised for a high challenge on Soumare. The decision was met with audible boos from the home fans, but in truth the Brazilian was lucky not to be dismissed.

Leicester were doing well to cling on defensively, with Dean Smith’s five-back formation working wonders for the Foxes against an inspired Newcastle attack. Anderson was able to conjure up a shot with just over twenty minutes played, but his strike had a little too much curl on it and Iversen was able to claim comfortably.

As the game drew towards half-time, the Foxes were really put under the cosh by Eddie Howe’s side – with seemingly endless waves of attack being launched, much to the enjoyment of the home fans. Callum Wilson struck the post from close range, and his follow-up effort was cleared off the line superbly by Ndidi to ensure the Foxes remained level.

Almiron and Wilson both had chances late on, though the Paraguayan’s effort struck the woodwork and the striker’s header was sent over the bar. Ultimately, there was nothing to separate the two teams as they headed down the tunnel – and a draw would be an incredible result for Leicester.

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The hosts thought they should have been awarded a penalty soon after play resumed, as Almiron’s effort from the edge of the box struck the arm of Tielemans inside the area. The referee opted not to award the spot kick though, as the Belgian midfielder’s arm was tucked in close to his body.

Leicester changed shape through with a third of the game still to play, as Barnes and Daka replaced Vardy and Evans. That seemed to open up opportunities for the Foxes, who seemed to pile increasing pressure on the hosts throughout the remainder of the game. Five minutes of stoppage time could have seen them claim a late winner, as Maddison’s cross in from the right flank was diverted towards goal by Castagne – though a great save from Pope was enough to keep the game goalless.

That would be one of the last attacks of the game though, as Eddie Howe’s side secure their participation in next season’s UEFA Champions League. A point for Leicester City will ensure the relegation battle continues until the final day, where they’ll need three points against West Ham – and they’ll also rely on Everton dropping points at home against Bournemouth.

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