Liverpool Not Playing Like Champions League Team – Klopp

Liverpool's German manager Jurgen Klopp walks on the pitch ahead of the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Newcastle United at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on April 24, 2021. DAVID KLEIN / POOL / AFP
Liverpool’s German manager Jurgen Klopp walks on the pitch ahead of the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Newcastle United at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on April 24, 2021. DAVID KLEIN / POOL / AFP

 

Jurgen Klopp admitted Liverpool are not playing like a side who “deserve” Champions League football next season after blowing the chance to move into the Premier League’s top four with a 1-1 draw against Newcastle on Saturday.

Mohamed Salah had opened the scoring after just three minutes, but Liverpool wasted a host of chances to extend their lead and paid in stoppage time.

The Reds even had a reprieve when Callum Wilson’s equaliser was ruled out after a VAR review for handball, but still could not hold on as Willock’s deflected strike secured a vital point in the Magpies’ bid for top flight survival.

Liverpool move up to sixth but are a point behind fourth-placed Chelsea and West Ham, who face off later on Saturday at the London Stadium.

READ ALSO: Liverpool Blow Place In The Top Four To Round Off Rollercoaster Week

Two more dropped points is a blow to Liverpool’s chances of a place in next season’s Champions League after their owners’ plans for ensuring they have top level European football every season without having to earn it on the field collapsed this week.

Liverpool were one of 12 clubs to initially sign up to proposals for a European Super League (ESL) last weekend, only to withdraw within 48 hours after a backlash from their own players and fans.

“If you deserve it, you deserve it,” said Klopp, echoing the critics of the ESL as a closed shop for Europe’s big clubs.

“I didn’t see us today playing like we deserve Champions League next year. We have another five games and we will see. We learn or we don’t play Champions League, that’s it.”

A protest outside Anfield on Saturday was more muted than the ones seen ahead of Chelsea and Arsenal’s home matches in recent days, but a number of flags and banners were attached to the gates around the ground calling out the “greed” of the club’s American owners Fenway Sports Group (FSG).

John Henry’s FSG helped deliver Liverpool’s first Premier League title for 30 years last season.

But many of the problems Klopp’s men have encountered in defending their title were in evidence again as they failed to see off Newcastle long before a nervy finale.

“I don’t think you can create much more chances, better chances than we did today and we don’t finish the game off,” added Klopp.

The hosts could not have made a better start as a brilliant touch and finish from Salah opened the scoring after just three minutes.

Salah should have had a second but fired too close to Martin Dubravka when clean through on goal, while Sadio Mane also failed to round the Slovakian goalkeeper with a glorious chance.

Dubravka then made a string of fine saves after the break to deny Roberto Firmino, Mane and James Milner.

The tension in the Liverpool players was clear late in the game and Newcastle capitalised after manager Steve Bruce sent on Wilson and Willock.

Wilson bundled home after Alisson had saved his initial effort, but the ball had rebounded off the Brazilian goalkeeper onto the former Bournemouth striker’s hand before he stabbed it into an unguarded net.

Seconds later, Liverpool failed to deal with another long ball into their box and it fell for on-loan Arsenal midfielder Willock, whose strike deflected in off Fabinho to leave Alisson helpless.

A third late goal in recent weeks from Willock edges Newcastle ever closer to survival. Bruce’s men are now nine points clear of the bottom three in 15th.

 

AFP

EPL: Newcastle Boost Survival Hopes, Dent West Ham’s Top Four Bid

Newcastle United's English midfielder Joe Willock (C) reacts after scoring a goal during the English Premier League football match between Newcastle United and West Ham United at St James' Park in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, north east England on April 17, 2021. STU FORSTER / POOL / AFP
Newcastle United’s English midfielder Joe Willock (C) reacts after scoring a goal during the English Premier League football match between Newcastle United and West Ham United at St James’ Park in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, north east England on April 17, 2021. STU FORSTER / POOL / AFP

 

Newcastle moved closer to Premier League survival after Joe Willock’s late goal capped a thrilling 3-2 win against 10-man West Ham that dented the visitors’ bid for a top four finish in the Premier League.

Steve Bruce’s side had squandered a two-goal lead in the closing stages at St James’ Park, but Willock came off the bench to snatch a priceless winner.

Newcastle are nine points clear of the relegation zone with just six games remaining in a turbulent season on Tyneside.

The Magpies had taken control in the first half thanks to Issa Diop’s own goal and a blunder from West Ham keeper Lukasz Fabianski for Joelinton’s strike.

West Ham defender Craig Dawson was sent off for two bookings in between those goals.

But the Hammers set up a tense finale when Diop got one back before Jesse Lingard equalised with a penalty 10 minutes from full-time.

On-loan Arsenal midfielder Willock settled a pulsating encounter with his thunderous header, putting Newcastle in position to avoid relegation.

Staying up would be an impressive achievement for Bruce, who has battled with dressing room rifts and distracting takeover talk.

“I’m not going to take anything for granted. I’ve always said it’s the accumulation of points, and 35, in my opinion, is not enough, so you won’t get me jumping and hollering at the moment,” Bruce said.

Newcastle United's Brazilian striker Joelinton (R) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the English Premier League football match between Newcastle United and West Ham United at St James' Park in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, north east England on April 17, 2021. dave rogers / POOL / AFP
Newcastle United’s Brazilian striker Joelinton (R) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the English Premier League football match between Newcastle United and West Ham United at St James’ Park in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, north east England on April 17, 2021.
Dave Rogers / POOL / AFP

 

“We’ve still got six games to play. Can we beat last year’s points tally of 44? We’ll try our utmost.”

The defeat was a big blow for West Ham as they chase an unexpected place in next season’s Champions League.

David Moyes’ side remain fourth, but Chelsea are just one point behind with a game in hand, while fifth-placed Liverpool would go above the Hammers if they beat Leeds on Monday.

“I wouldn’t say it was a chance lost, it was an opportunity for us to pick up three points,” Moyes said.

“We like talking about the Champions League, we love the sound of that when everybody says it, but we’re realistic.”

Dawson misery

Newcastle took the lead in the 36th minute when Dawson, in his attempts to recover from a heavy touch, felled Joelinton on halfway.

He could only look on as Allan Saint-Maximin sped away, twisted his way past the retreating Mark Noble and then saw his weak shot bundled over the line by Diop as referee Kevin Friend allowed play to continue.

Dawson’s misery was compounded when, having already been booked for a 12th-minute foul on the Brazilian, he received a second yellow card.

Joelinton, who had previously scored only two Premier League goals this season, was gifted his third by Fabianski when he spilled Matt Ritchie’s 41st-minute corner, leaving the Brazilian striker with a tap-in that he couldn’t miss.

However, Diop headed the Hammers back into it with 17 minutes remaining.

West Ham draw level when, after a VAR check, Ciaran Clark was penalised for handball and on-loan Manchester United midfielder Lingard struck from the spot for his ninth goal in 10 games.

But there was a sting in the tale as Willock, who had only been on the pitch for seconds, thumped his header past Fabianski from Ritchie’s cross in the 83rd minute.

 

AFP

Callum Wilson’s Double Stuns Ancelotti’s Everton

Newcastle United’s English striker Callum Wilson celebrates scoring his team’s second goal during the English Premier League football match between Everton and Newcastle United at Goodison Park in Liverpool, north west England on January 30, 2021.
Clive Brunskill / POOL / AFP

 

Callum Wilson eased the pressure on Newcastle manager Steve Bruce as his late double sealed a vital 2-0 win against Everton on Saturday.

Bruce has been under fire from Newcastle fans after a wretched run plunged his team into the Premier League relegation battle.

But Wilson netted twice in the last 17 minutes at Goodison Park to give Newcastle their first victory in 12 matches in all competitions.

Having ended a dismal streak of five successive defeats, Newcastle are now nine points above the bottom three.

Their first win in 10 league matches gives Bruce some breathing space, but he still has only minimal margin for error given the ever-present gloomy mood on Tyneside.

Everton remain seventh after a first defeat in three league games.

Carlo Ancelotti kept faith with Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford despite the England international’s latest costly mistake in the midweek draw against Leicester.

Pickford produced the best save of the game to divert Wilson’s flicked header onto the crossbar as the visitors began to generate some momentum before half-time.

Everton’s Yerry Mina twice headed over as James Rodriguez’s delivery caused problems.

Wilson should have done better when he swept Ryan Fraser’s pass just past the far post from a counter-attack not long after the restart.

The substitution which Newcastle hoped would change things up came in the 66th minute when Allan Saint-Maximin replaced Fraser.

And they made the breakthrough in the 73rd minute when Wilson lost his marker at a Jonjo Shelvey corner and looped a header across Pickford and inside the far upright.

Wilson was then denied by the post after rounding Pickford, but the former Bournemouth striker made no mistake when Newcastle countered quickly in stoppage-time.

Firing a low shot past Pickford, Wilson turned away in celebration as Bruce punched the air on the touchline.

 

 

West Ham Into Top Four, Leeds Compound Newcastle’s Woes

West Ham United’s English defender Craig Dawson (R) celebrates scoring his team’s third goal during the English Premier League football match between Crystal Palace and West Ham United at Selhurst Park in south London on January 26, 2021.
Clive Rose / POOL / AFP

 

West Ham moved into the Premier League’s top four as Tomas Soucek scored twice in a 3-2 win at Crystal Palace, while Leeds inflicted more misery on Newcastle with a 2-1 victory at St James’ Park on Tuesday.

The Hammers suffered an early setback when Wilfried Zaha put Palace in front after just three minutes.

But the stronger mentality that David Moyes has lauded in West Ham this season showed as Soucek struck twice in 16 minutes to turn the game around.

Only Manchester United’s Bruno Fernandes has scored more Premier League goals from midfield than the Czech since he joined from Slavia Prague a year ago.

Soucek powered home a header from close range from Michail Antonio’s cross and then bundled home Aaron Cresswell’s free-kick at the back post.

West Ham could have been out of sight by half-time as Antonio then twice struck the post.

A third goal was no more than the visitors deserved and it came 25 minutes from time when Craig Dawson headed in Jarrod Bowen’s corner.

Michy Batshuayi pulled a goal back with virtually the last kick of the game but it was too little, too late for Palace.

A sixth consecutive win in all competitions takes Moyes’s men above Liverpool in the table and Jurgen Klopp’s struggling Reds will be wary of their trip to the London Stadium on Sunday.

 

READ ALSO: Pinnick Declared Eligible For Membership of FIFA Council

 

Newcastle United’s Swiss defender Fabian Schar reacts during the English Premier League football match between Newcastle United and Leeds United at St James’ Park in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, north east England on January 26, 2021.
STU FORSTER / POOL / AFP

 

At the other end of the table, Newcastle’s dreadful form continued as their winless run stretched to 11 games to pile more pressure on beleaguered boss Steve Bruce.

The Magpies have a seven-point cushion over the bottom three, but have now played two games more than Fulham in 18th.

Leeds had been on a poor run themselves, but secured their first win of 2021 to move 14 points clear of the drop zone in 12th.

Raphinha slotted home Rodrigo’s cut-back to give Marcelo Bielsa’s men a deserved half-time lead.

Miguel Almiron levelled with Newcastle’s first goal for five games early in the second half, but parity lasted only four minutes before Jack Harrison’s sensational finish with the outside of his left foot claimed all three points for the visitors.

-AFP

FA Cup: Smith Rowe Fires Arsenal Into Fourth Round

Arsenal's English midfielder Emile Smith Rowe (R) celebrates after scoring the opening goal of the English FA Cup third round football match between Arsenal and Newcastle United at the Emirates Stadium in London on January 9, 2021. Glyn KIRK / AFP
Arsenal’s English midfielder Emile Smith Rowe (R) celebrates after scoring the opening goal of the English FA Cup third round football match between Arsenal and Newcastle United at the Emirates Stadium in London on January 9, 2021. Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

Emile Smith Rowe made the most of his red card reprieve as the Arsenal youngster sent the FA Cup holders into the fourth round with the decisive extra-time strike in Saturday’s 2-0 victory against Newcastle.

Smith Rowe avoided being sent off when his foul on Sean Longstaff — initially ruled a dismissal — was changed to a booking after referee Chris Kavanagh consulted the pitchside monitor.

It would have been harsh on the promising 20-year-old midfielder if he had been given his marching orders.

Smith Rowe celebrated the escape with a fine finish to open the scoring in a hard-fought third-round tie at the Emirates Stadium.

Gabon striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang bagged Arsenal’s second goal — just his sixth of a difficult season — in the final moments.

“It was bit of a relief for me with the (red card) incident. It definitely wasn’t intentional,” Smith Rowe said.

“I’m happy to get the goal. From a young kid I have always wanted to play for this club.

Arsenal's Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (L) chases the ball during the English Premier League football match between West Bromwich Albion and Arsenal at The Hawthorns stadium in West Bromwich, central England, on January 2, 2021. Rui Vieira / POOL / AFP
Arsenal’s Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (L) chases the ball during the English Premier League football match between West Bromwich Albion and Arsenal at The Hawthorns stadium in West Bromwich, central England, on January 2, 2021. Rui Vieira / POOL / AFP

 

“We knew how tough it was going to be. It was about breaking them down. It shows how together we are.

“We have been working off the pitch to get closer as a group.”

The Gunners gave boss Mikel Arteta the first silverware of his reign when they beat Chelsea in the FA Cup final in August and the optimism provided by that success is slowly returning to north London after a difficult period.

Arteta was fighting to save his job just two weeks ago, but three successive wins over Christmas lifted Arsenal away from the Premier League relegation zone and eased the pressure on the Spaniard.

Arsenal have won the FA Cup a record 14 times, lifting the trophy four times in the last seven seasons, and another long run in the competition would be a welcome boost for Arteta.

Smith Rowe shines

Bernd Leno, Kieran Tierney, Pablo Mari and Aubameyang were the only Arsenal players to retain their places from the 4-0 win at West Brom.

Arsenal were forced into a late change after Gabriel Martinelli suffered an ankle injury in the warm-up and was replaced by Reiss Nelson.

Newcastle made eight changes of their own but chances were at a premium for Arsenal until David Luiz’s quick free-kick found Aubameyang, whose stinging strike was pushed away by Martin Dubravka.

Andy Carroll scored his first Newcastle goal in 10 years recently and he forced Leno into action with an agile strike from the edge of the area early in the second half.

Newcastle were showing more attacking intent, only for Carroll to waste a golden opportunity to put them ahead when he stabbed wide from close range.

Joe Willock forced Dubravka to make a superb save at full stretch when the midfielder met Nicolas Pepe’s cross with a glancing header.

Arsenal captain Aubameyang couldn’t hit the target with a close-range header before Leno made a brilliant stop to deny Carroll in the final moments of normal time.

Arsenal broke through in the 109th minute when Bukayo Saka chipped a pass to Alexandre Lacazette and his header reached Smith Rowe, who controlled on his chest before drilling a fine finish into the far corner for his second goal of the season.

Aubameyang put the result beyond doubt in the 117th minute when he tapped in Tierney’s cross.

AFP

Newcastle Return To Training After COVID-19 Outbreak At Premier League Club

 

Newcastle players were due to return to training on Tuesday following the postponement of last week’s match against Aston Villa due to a rise in coronavirus cases.

United’s training headquarters had been closed as a result of the spike, which forced the first postponement of a Premier League fixture this season due to Covid-19.

The Magpies were due to head for Villa Park on Friday, but were granted permission to reschedule the fixture.

In a statement on Twitter, the Premier League club said: “United’s players will train at the Training Centre today following a temporary closure last week due to a rise in Covid-19 cases.

“Those who had tested positive will follow relevant protocols before returning. Thanks for your messages of support to our players and staff.”

Players and staff who were tested on Sunday have since undergone another round of checks as medics work to identify the source of the outbreak, with the return of squad members following last month’s international break understood to be a focus.

Newcastle, who are due to face West Brom at St James’ Park on Saturday, have not identified those affected or confirmed the number of cases, with speculation that the outbreak may have reached double figures.

-AFP

Chelsea Outclass Newcastle To Temporarily Go Top Of EPL Table


Lindsey Parnaby / POOL / AFP

 

Chelsea made clear their intentions with a masterclass display 2-0 win against Newcastle on early Saturday afternoon at Saint James’ Park.

Frank Lampard’s men were without talismanic defender Thiago Silva who was deputized by the German Rudiger; also missing from the Chelsea ranks was Kai Havertz who was still in quarantine after testing positive for the COVID-19 virus.

Newcastle were also missing their leading goal scorer Callum Wilson, who suffered a hamstring injury against Southampton in the 2-0 defeat before the international break

An own goal from Newcastle’s centre back Federico Fernandez and a second-half finish from Tammy Abraham gave the visitors a comfortable win against opponents who barely threatened.

The duo of Werner and Abraham was making a nuisance of the Newcastle backline with waves of attack and the Magpies woes were further compounded by the replacement of their captain Jamaal Lascelles who took a blow late in the first half.

Chelsea finally put any hopes of a Newcastle come back to bed with a moment of magic from the German Werner who made light work of the Newcastle defence to lay an assist for Tammy Abraham.

The men in blue kept probing but were denied a third goal after Werner was deemed offside by the VAR. Two goals in favour of Lampard’s men was how it ended with Chelsea going top of the EPL log temporarily with Leicester and Tottenham yet to play.

 

Premier League Hit Back Over Newcastle Takeover Bid Claim

premier-league-fixtures-today
The Premier League was put on hold since mid-March due to COVID-19 outbreak. Photo: Twitter/Premier League.

 

The Premier League have slammed Newcastle’s claim that the organisation rejected a Saudi Arabia-backed bid to buy the troubled club.

Newcastle released a statement on Wednesday that said Premier League chief executive Richard Masters had blocked the takeover and did not “act appropriately”.

But the Premier League delivered a strongly worded response on Thursday that made it clear they had not pulled the plug on the deal.

“The Premier League was disappointed and surprised by the Newcastle United Football Club statement regarding its potential takeover by PCP Capital Partners, the Reuben Brothers and the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia (PIF),” a statement read.

“The club’s assertion that the Premier League has rejected the takeover is incorrect.

“The Premier League Board has, on a number of occasions, given its opinion about which entities it believes would have control over the club should the consortium proceed with the acquisition. That opinion is based on legal advice.

“This means the potential takeover could proceed to the next stage should the relevant entities provide all appropriate information. They would then be subject to a suitability assessment by the Board. As an alternative, the Board has repeatedly offered independent arbitration as a way forward since June.

“It is also incorrect to suggest these decisions were taken by any individual; they were agreed unanimously by all Premier League Board members.”

The investment group, which included the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF), PCP Capital Partners and billionaire brothers David and Simon Reuben, said they withdrew their bid in July after waiting months for the English top-flight’s approval.

A £300 million ($391 million) deal to buy the side from owner Mike Ashley had been agreed in April.

However, the bid had attracted scrutiny due to the piracy of sports broadcast rights, including Premier League matches, in Saudi and the state’s human rights record.

Amanda Staveley of PCP Capital Partners said when the bid was withdrawn that the Premier League wanted the Saudi state to become a director of the club as the PIF was not deemed to be an arm of the government.

Supporters have long campaigned for Ashley to sell the club as they have been disillusioned with his 13-year spell as owner, which has included two relegations from the Premier League.

Newcastle begin the new Premier League season away to West Ham on Saturday.

AFP

Saudi-Backed Bid For Newcastle Withdrawn As ‘No Longer Commercially Viable’

File photo: Newcastle players react after Newcastle United’s US defender DeAndre Yedlin (L) scored an own goal for Chelsea’s second during the English Premier League football match between Newcastle United and Chelsea at St James’ Park in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, north east England on August 26, 2018. Lindsey PARNABY / AFP

 

 

A takeover bid for Newcastle United by a consortium backed by the Saudi sovereign wealth fund has been withdrawn after weeks of waiting for the Premier League’s approval, the group said on Thursday.

The investment group of the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF), Amanda Staveley’s PCP Capital Partners and billionaire brothers, David and Simon Reuben, cited the long period since a deal was struck with Newcastle owner Mike Ashley in April and the impact of coronavirus for pulling out.

“With a deep appreciation for the Newcastle community and the significance of its football club, we have come to the decision to withdraw our interest in acquiring Newcastle United Football Club,” the investment group said in a statement reported by Sky Sports.

“Unfortunately, the prolonged process under the current circumstances coupled with global uncertainty has rendered the potential investment no longer commercially viable.”

The statement added: “Ultimately, during the unforeseeably prolonged process, the commercial agreement between the Investment Group and the club’s owners expired and our investment thesis could not be sustained, particularly with no clarity as to the circumstances under which the next season will start and the new norms that will arise for matches, training and other activities.”

The takeover bid had attracted condemnation from Amnesty International and the wife of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi over Saudi’s human rights record, putting pressure on the Premier League not to give it the green light in its owners’ and directors’ test.

AFP

 

Stay At Home, Newcastle Tell Players Amid Coronavirus Lockdown

Newcastle United manager Steve Bruce arrives ahead of the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Burnley at St. James’s Park, Newcastle, England on 29 February 2020. AFP

 

Newcastle manager Steve Bruce has told his players to stay at home during the Premier League’s coronavirus lockdown.

The Premier League announced on Friday that all matches would be postponed until April 3 over fears about the spread of the deadly pandemic.

Bruce said Newcastle had already drawn up a response to the coronavirus outbreak when the governing bodies acted on Friday after Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta and Chelsea midfielder Callum Hudson-Odoi tested positive for the illness.

That will entail the players staying at home and working on their personal fitness programmes to stay in shape.

Bruce, whose side were due to face Sheffield United on Saturday, said: “We’ve set the personal programmes in place, they’re ready to go.

“I think that’s what the doctors of all the clubs are recommending. Up until yesterday, we thought we were fine to play this weekend, but when the news broke (about Arteta), it was obvious the situation had changed.

“Once we heard about that, and Leicester and now Chelsea, we knew things had moved on.

“We’ve been talking about what will happen if everything is suspended for two weeks, four weeks. The plan would be for the players to go away with their own individual programmes, to take them away from here, because we are on top of each other.

“There are 70 or 80 of us in quite a confined space. If one of them got infected when they were away from the training ground and then came back in, clearly that would be an issue. It’s so contagious, apparently.”

AFP

Arsenal Roar Back Into Champions League Contention After Newcastle Win

Arsenal’s French-born Ivorian midfielder Nicolas Pepe (C) celebrates with teammates after scoring their second goal during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Newcastle United at the Emirates Stadium in London on February 16, 2020.
Ian KINGTON / AFP

 

Arsenal hauled themselves back into contention to qualify for next season’s Champions League with a 4-0 win over Newcastle thanks to second-half goals from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Nicolas Pepe, Mesut Ozil and Alexandre Lacazette.

Just a second league win for the Gunners under Mikel Arteta lifts Arsenal into 10th in the Premier League, but just six points adrift of Tottenham in fifth.

Manchester City’s two-season ban from European competition means fifth will be enough to secure a Champions League place unless the English champions succeed in appealing that sanction to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Arteta, who left City to take his first senior managerial role at the Emirates in December, could be the beneficiary of his former employers’ punishment.

And there was plenty of encouragement for the Spaniard in Arsenal’s second-half performance after an all too familiar subdued first 45 minutes.

READ ALSO: Son’s Brace Seal Win For Tottenham Against Aston Villa

Both sides started the day in the bottom half of the table on 31 points and it showed before the break.

The visitors had the better chances as Joelinton screwed wide before Bernd Leno turned Sean Longstaff’s deflected shot to safety.

Arteta handed Eddie Nketiah his first Premier League start upfront at the expense of the out-of-form Lacazette.

However, it took over half an hour for the 20-year-old to get a sight of goal when he fired too close to Martin Dubravka.

Nketiah should have scored when he hit the bar from Pepe’s cut-back in an explosive start to the second period from Arsenal.

But Aubameyang showed his young apprentice how to pounce in front of goal as he rose highest to power home Pepe’s floated cross on 54 minutes.

One of the revelations of Arteta’s early days in charge has been Bukayo Saka’s performances as a makeshift left-back.

No Arsenal player has created more goals than the 18-year-old this season and Saka nutmegged Valentino Lazaro before teeing up Pepe to fire home the hosts’ second from close range.

Newcastle have scored just 24 goals in 26 league games this season and their lack of a goal threat was obvious as they chased the game in the final half-hour.

Ciaran Clark spurned a great chance to bring the Magpies back into the game by firing wide with just Leno to beat before the mercurial Allan Saint-Maximin curled a shot off the post.

Lacazette replaced Nketiah five minutes from time and made a huge impact to give his confidence a much-needed boost.

Firstly, the Frenchman crossed for Ozil, whose tame shot squirmed through Dubravka’s grasp.

Luck then shone on Lacazette to end a nine-game goal drought as his right-footed shot flicked off his left foot and flew into the top corner in the fifth minute of stoppage time.

AFP

Leicester Keep Title Hope Alive After Newcastle Win

Leicester City’s English midfielder Hamza Choudhury celebrates after scoring their third goal during the English Premier League football match between Newcastle United and Leicester City at St James’ Park in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, north east England on January 1, 2020.
Lindsey Parnaby / AFP

 

Leicester kept alive their faint hopes of catching Premier League leaders Liverpool as Ayoze Perez returned to haunt Newcastle in Wednesday’s 3-0 win at St James’ Park.

Spanish forward Perez put Leicester ahead nine minutes before the break with his fifth goal since swapping Newcastle for the King Power Stadium in the close-season.

James Maddison doubled Leicester’s shortly afterward and Hamza Choudhury bagged the late third as Brendan Rodgers’ side made a flying start to 2020.

Leicester’s seventh away league win this season maintained their mastery of Newcastle, who lost 5-0 to the Foxes earlier this season after also losing their League Cup second-round clash.

READ ALSO: Southampton Edge Tottenham As Kane Limps Off Injured

Second-placed Leicester are now 10 points behind Liverpool, who face Sheffield United at Anfield on Thursday.

Newcastle suffered a third successive league defeat for the first time since October 2018 and boss Steve Bruce and his players were loudly booed by the frustrated locals.

Jamie Vardy was absent again after Leicester’s 17-goal leading scorer missed the win at West Ham following the birth of his baby daughter.

But Ben Chilwell, Caglar Soyuncu, Ricardo Pereira, Youri Tielemans, Maddison and Wilfred Ndidi all returned after being rested at West Ham.

Leicester’s reinforced line-up were quickly on the front foot and Jonny Evans forced a good save from Martin Dubravka with a towering header in the opening moments.

Dubravka had to get down well again to parry a low drive from Tielemens.

Despite Leicester’s early pressure, Newcastle should have taken the lead when Joelinton ran onto Jonjo Shelvey’s defense-splitting pass.

Joelinton’s initial shot was saved by Kasper Schmeichel and from the rebound, the out-of-form striker somehow managed to head completely off target with the goal at his mercy.

But Leicester were dominating so confidently that they held 77 percent of the possession before taking the lead in the 36th minute.

Leicester Sparkle

Jeered by his old club’s fans whenever he touched the ball, Perez had the perfect response.

It was a gift of a goal as Newcastle’s Florian Lejeune played a suicidal pass across his own area and Perez pounced, cutting back inside for a cool low finish that he celebrated by sticking his fingers in his ears.

The opprobrium of the home fans was turned on their own players three minutes later as Rodgers’ men doubled their advantage.

Once again, the hapless Lejeune was guilty of surrendering possession far too easily and this time Maddison was the beneficiary as he seized control 20 yards out and rifled a superb strike into the top corner of Dubravka’s net.

Kelechi Iheanacho almost made it three from Perez’s cross, but Dubravka just clawed his shot out before it crossed the line.

Adding to Bruce’s miserable start to the new year, Newcastle lost Jetro Willems and Javier Manquillo to injuries before the interval.

Having gambled by making his third and final change at half-time, Bruce watched aghast as Fabian Schar was injured just seconds after the restart, leaving Newcastle down to 10 men for the rest of the match.

With a numerical advantage to go with their two-goal lead, Leicester effectively used the second half as a practice session.

Dubravka kept the score down with saves from Perez and Iheanacho, but Choudhury capped an imperious Leicester display in the 87th minute.

Picked out on the edge of the area, Choudhury curled a brilliant strike into the top corner for his first professional goal.

AFP