Leicester 0-3 Newcastle: Player ratings as first-half blitz sends Magpies second

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Leicester City slumped to a 3-0 Boxing Day defeat at home to Newcastle, shipping a trio of goals barely half an hour back from the winter hiatus.

Both teams entered the World Cup break in great form, but Newcastle immediately rediscovered their zip while Leicester dreamed of their Christmas presents.

Newcastle’s opener was certainly a gift. Wout Faes followed up a loose pass for Boubakary Soumare to touch Joelinton hard. The Brazilian strode into the area before being beaten by a poorly timed stamp from Daniel Amartey to win a penalty in the opening 90 seconds. Chris Wood beat the free kick straight down the middle.

Leicester beat Newcastle 4-0 when the Magpies traveled to the King Power 12 months ago. The petrostat-fueled visitors have spent more than £200m on transfers in the interim. Leicester coughed up £15 million. Arguably Newcastle’s most transformative acquisition this term, he played a vital role in doubling his side’s advantage after seven minutes.

Bruno Guimaraes pirouetted away from Patson Dak before firing the ball into the side of Miguel Almiron. Almiron made a mistake from the wing, played the pass back to Guimaraes before pouncing on his team-mate’s perfectly balanced ball to slot his ninth goal of the season into the bottom corner.

Two goals were enough to wake up the Foxes. Nick Pope was forced into a quick scrimmage at Dak’s feet before Sven Botman slid in a goal-line pass as Brendan Rodgers belatedly emerged from his clouded stupor.

Yet Newcastle quickly quelled Leicester’s whispers of a fightback and once again opened fire on the home side. The introduction of a set-piece specialist on the Leicester bench coincided with a marked improvement, but Soumare was barely off the ground as Joelinton sprung to meet Kieran Trippier to nod in the first corner Leicester had conceded since September.

In the space of 32 first-half minutes, Leicester scored as many goals as they scored between October and Christmas.

Newcastle conceded the most Boxing Day goals in Premier League history but were focused on keeping a clean sheet after the break, only occasionally going forward when the opportunity presented itself. Leicester finished the game with two forwards but hardly threatened after the break, finishing with their first shot on target in the 83rd minute.

Before the game, Eddie Howe insisted: “I haven’t looked at the league once, I really haven’t.” If the Newcastle manager indulges in a sneak peek at the table after watching his side sweep Leicester aside, Howe would see the Magpies sit above reigning champions Manchester City and occupy the dizzying heights of second place.

Leicester player ratings (4-1-4-1)

GK: Danny Ward – 5/10 – Could scarcely be blamed for any of Newcastle’s goals.

RB: Timothy Castagne – 4/10 – Barely crept out of his own half, playing a notably subdued role.

CB: Daniel Amartey – 3/10 – Attempted a wild tackle in the opening 90 seconds which was about two minutes too late.

CB: Wout Faes – 3/10 – Embodied Leicester’s groggy opening with a calamitous individual start from which he hardly recovered.

LB: Luke Thomas – 4/10 – Teased and taunted by Almiron as the youngster was overrun down his flank.

DM: Boubakary Soumare – 3/10 – A flimsy presence at the base of midfield, offering little resistance to Newcastle’s surges.

CM: Youri TIelemans – 4/10 – Struggled to exert a significant influence on proceedings.

CM: Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall – 5/10 – Skirted around the periphery of the contest.

RW: Dennis Praet – N/A – The replacement for the injured James Maddison was forced off with a fitness concern of his own within 20 minutes.

ST: Patson Daka – 6/10 – Posed a nagging threat darting behind Newcastle’s backline. Unfortunate to get hooked at half-time.

LW: Harvey Barnes – 3/10 – Endured a clunky, uncultured outing lacking in any composure or even a show of good close control.


Substitutes

Ayoze Perez (17′ for Praet) – 4/10 – Flitted in and out of the game, struggling to find a gap in the blockade of his former employers.

Jamie Vardy (46′ for Daka) – 5/10 – Brought his familiar dollop of devilment but little end product.

Kelechi Iheanacho (71′ for Barnes) – 5/10

Wilfred Ndidi – (72′ for Soumare) – 5/10

Manager

Brendan Rodgers – 4/10 – Despite lengthy spells in promising positions, Rodgers’ side couldn’t recover from a woeful start, lacking the guile sitting on the sidelines in the form of Maddison.

GK: Nick Pope – 6/10 – Alert when sporadically called into action.

RB: Kieran Trippier – 7/10 – A key figure backing up Almiron down the right wing while offering a potent threat from set pieces.

CB: Fabian Schar – 6/10 – Ambitious – if a little wayward – with his passing.

CB: Sven Botman – 7/10 – Engaged in a physically full-throttle battle with Daka which he came out on top off more often than not.

LB: Dan Burn – 6/10 – Didn’t open up his long stride regularly in a display focussed more on the rearguard.

CM: Sean Longstaff – 7/10 – The red-nosed midfielder energetically led Newcastle’s press but was less assured when he actually got the ball.

CM: Bruno Guimaraes – 9/10 – Dictated play with a swagger, strolling around the King Power with a regal air. Off the ball, he launched himself into well-timed challenges which he celebrated fervently.

CM: Joe Willock – 7/10 – Always eager to scurry forward in support of Joelinton.

RW: Miguel Almiron – 8/10 – Picked up from right where he left off, starring on and off the ball in a dexterous but industrious performance.

ST: Chris Wood – 7/10 – Leathered a no-nonsense penalty straight down the middle to kick off Newcastle’s restart.

LW: Joelinton – 8/10 – Despite never seeming to be entirely in control of his own considerable frame, Joelinton demonstrated supreme manipulation of the ball and the Leicester bodies that dared to get touch-tight.


Substitutes

Allan Saint-Maximin (83′ for Almiron) – N/A

Jacob Murphy (84′ for Willock) – N/A

Matt Ritchie (88′ for Wood) – N/A

Elliot Anderson (90+2′ for Longstaff) – N/A


Manager

Eddie Howe – 8/10 – Such is the quality of the Newcastle setup that the absence of Callum Wilson and Allan Saint-Maximin (from the start) was unnoticeable.


Player of the Match – Bruno Guimaraes

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