Newcastle 0 Leicester 3 – Thousands of empty seats as injuries save Steve Bruce from proper hammering
It ended Newcastle 0 Leicester 3 but in truth, Steve Bruce was saved from a real hammering here.
Two goals three minutes apart towards the end of the first half confirmed where the points were heading.
Steve Bruce will no doubt talk about the goals being down to mistakes but after completely dominating the opening period, it was only a question of time before they added the goals.
Joelinton had Newcastle’s one chance of the game when a ball over the top from Shelvey saw him eventually hit Schmeichel and as the ball spun up in the air, the Brazilian tamely headed it safe.
On 36 minutes a terrible ball from a tired looking Lejeune across his own box was intercepted by Ayoze Perez who finished. United maybe slightly lucky as Schar tripped Perez before he put the ball in the net, could have been red card and penalty if he hadn’t scored.
Lejeune three minutes later was trapped on the left and tried to play a ball down the left, intercepted and Maddison the got the ball inside and lashed it into the top corner.
Dubravka was excellent as he kept the score down but the two goals were quickly followed by then losing four players to injury in a 10 minute spell.
Manquillo and Willems off in added time and replaced by Yedlin and Krafth.
Then Shelvey presumably injured as well as Steve Bruce used his final sub at half-time and brought on Sean Longstaff.
Very quickly Fabian Schar had an obvious hamstring issue and yet Steve Bruce ridiculously allowed him to go back on for a few minutes before he dropped to the floor again and came off, NUFC playing the final 40 minutes with 10 men.
In truth, that saved them from a right hammering (as did the absence of an injured Vardy).
If Newcastle had kept 11 men on the pitch they would have felt obliged to have some sort of a go in the second-half after being booed off at the break and would have been ripped apart as gaps emerged.
However, with 10 men they had the perfect and obvious excuse to just sit in, with Leicester obligingly saving their energy and just keeping the ball, as they had done in the first half.
Choudhury was treated to pantomime boos when coming off the bench in recognition of injuring Ritchie in August, he placed a perfect effort into the top right corner from outside the box to end the scoring on 87 minutes.
Mike Ashley and his people proclaimed ‘sold out’ for today’s match and yet there were thousands of empty seats all around the stadium as even 10,000 free season tickets failed to fill it.
By the final whistle there were very few left in their seats to see/hear it.
Steve Bruce will talk about bad luck but he has to hold his hands up for the incompetence that has led to so many injuries.
Yes there has been bad luck but playing people carrying knocks and rushing players back too quickly has made the problem so much worse.
Stats (half-time stats in brackets) from BBC Sport:
Newcastle 0 Leicester 3 (Newcastle 0 Leicester 2) – Wednesday 1 January 3pm
Perez 36, Maddison 39, Choudhury 87
Possession was Leicester 77% (71%), Newcastle 23% (29%)
Total shots were Leicester 16 (9), Newcastle 5 (4)
Shots on target were Leicester 9 (5), Newcastle 2 (2)
Corners were Leicester 5 (4), Newcastle 4 (3)
Crowd: 52,178 (3,000 Leicester and 10,000 free NUFC season ticket holders, although a massive number of empty seats all around St James Park)
Referee: Martin Atkinson
Newcastle team v Leicester:
Dubravka, Manquillo (Krafth 45+3), Schar (forced off on 51 minutes and NUFC down to 10 men), Lejeune, Fernandez, Willems (Yedlin 45), Hayden, Shelvey (Sean Longstaff 46), Almiron, Muto, Joelinton
Darlow, Atsu, Carroll, Gayle
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