Premier League
LeicesterLeicester City1NewcastleNewcastle United0

Leicester City 1-0 Newcastle United

By Aimee LewisBBC Sport
Shinji Okazaki
Shinji Okazaki's strike was his fifth league goal of the season

Leicester extended their lead at the top of the Premier League to five points as Rafael Benitez's first match in charge of Newcastle ended in defeat.

Shinji Okazaki's spectacular overhead kick earned the Foxes a win which, with just eight games left, moved them closer to their first league title.

An improved Newcastle went close through Ayoze Perez and Moussa Sissoko.

But ultimately Leicester's pressing foiled them and the defeat leaves the Magpies second from bottom.

Leicester show no signs of wavering

Before the match, Leicester boss Claudio Ranieri refused to accept his team were favourites to win the title, insisting that qualifying for the Europa League was the target.

But as Ranieri gesticulated on the sidelines in the closing minutes, urging the home fans to increase the volume, his actions suggested that he and his team are chasing more than a chance to compete in Europe's second-tier competition.

Claudio Ranieri
The Foxes have won their last three Premier League games against Newcastle United after winning none of the previous seven

With every passing week, the prospect of the Foxes achieving what their former striker Gary Lineker describes as possibly the most "unlikely triumph in the history of team sport" becomes more likely.

A team which at the start of the season were among the bookies' favourites to be relegated are on the home straight, unbeaten in four matches and closing in on history.

Ranieri's men are 12 points clear of Manchester City and 11 ahead of Arsenal, leaving many to believe the title is a two-way fight between the leaders and second-placed Tottenham.

A hint of a Rafa revival?

This match perhaps came too soon for Benitez to whip Newcastle into shape, having only taken over from the sacked Steve McClaren on Friday.

The Magpies started like a team buoyed by the Spaniard's appointment, engineering two chances early on - an iffy Wes Morgan nearly put Sissoko through, while Perez went close moments later.

Newcastle's deep defensive line initially caused the hosts problems, but once Okazaki struck, the Foxes took control, attacking with pace and defending in packs.

Rafael Benitez
Newcastle's record of 24 points from 29 games is their lowest in Premier League history

There were hints that Benitez can revive a team which has struggled all season, but the former Liverpool boss - who nine weeks ago was in charge of Real Madrid, coaching Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale - has just nine games to save Newcastle from relegation.

Had Sissoko possessed the poise to find a team-mate when the visitors had a three-on-two advantage they could have equalised, while the Frenchman also sweetly struck a volley only to be denied late on by Morgan's block.

Benitez had said he had "done the maths" and that he was positive of survival, but for that optimism to remain, the Magpies - who have now lost 17 of their 29 league matches - must beat fellow strugglers Sunderland on Sunday.

What next?

For Newcastle, the next two games are central to their survival hopes. They will host Sunderland in what should be a tasty derby as the Magpies are a point adrift of the Black Cats, who are clear of the relegation zone on goal difference only.

On 2 April, Benitez's men will then travel to Norwich, another team who are a point ahead of them in the league, albeit having played a game more.

Leicester travel to Crystal Palace to face a side who have not won in the league in 2016 but have progressed to the semi-finals of the FA Cup.

Average positions
This graphic shows the teams' average positions during the match. Leicester's back four remained compact, protected by N'Golo Kante, which allowed the rest of the team to play in the opposition's half. Newcastle weren't as tight in defence with their centre backs - Steven Taylor and Jamaal Lascelles - particularly struggling

Man of the match - N'Golo Kante

Kante
The Leicester midfielder covered more distance (11.82km) and completed more sprints (71) than any other player

What the managers said

Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri: "It wasn't the best performance from us but we showed fantastic spirit. We defended very well. It wasn't nervy in the second half, the team was so close and compact.

Newcastle will be safe - Ranieri

"I feel now that I am just concentrating on the next game against Crystal Palace. We are so strong, we think only one game at a time. Step by step, that is our philosophy.

"Their players showed Rafa their attitude and the Newcastle players are very good. I am sure that they will be safe."

Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez: "I wasn't happy with the goal because there were too many balls bouncing in the box. I would like to think about the positives. We reacted well and were pushing well.

"I thought that we could get a result and I was convinced we could do it. But they worked really hard and are pushing and their tempo is not easy for any team.

Benitez confident of Newcastle survival

"We know our next game against Sunderland is a derby and it will be important for everyone but I have a feeling the fans are really good and they are the number 12 for the next game. We have plenty of things to do and they need to rest and work hard."

The stats you need to know

  • Leicester have lost just one of their last 18 Premier League games at the King Power Stadium (W12 D5 L1).
  • Claudio Ranieri's team have kept a clean sheet in six of their last seven Premier League home matches.
  • Leicester have scored in 27 Premier League games this season, more than any other team.
  • The Foxes have made just 25 changes to their starting XI this season, fewer than any other side.
  • This game was the 10th time this season that Ranieri had named an unchanged starting XI.
  • Leicester have won 12 games by a single goal this season, more than any other Premier League team.
  • The home side scored with their only shot on target of the game.

Line-ups

Leicester

Formation 4-4-2

  • 1Schmeichel
  • 17Simpson
  • 5Morgan
  • 6Huth
  • 28Fuchs
  • 26Mahrez
  • 14Kanté
  • 4Drinkwater
  • 11AlbrightonSubstituted forUlloaat 75'minutes
  • 9Vardy
  • 20OkazakiSubstituted forSchluppat 65'minutes

Substitutes

  • 13Amartey
  • 15Schlupp
  • 22Gray
  • 23Ulloa
  • 27Wasilewski
  • 32Schwarzer
  • 33Inler

Newcastle

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 21Elliot
  • 22Janmaat
  • 27Taylor
  • 15Lascelles
  • 4Colback
  • 8AnitaSubstituted forTownsendat 56'minutes
  • 12ShelveySubstituted forDoumbiaat 87'minutes
  • 17PérezSubstituted forde Jongat 71'minutes
  • 5Wijnaldum
  • 7Sissoko
  • 45Mitrovic

Substitutes

  • 10de Jong
  • 23Saivet
  • 25Townsend
  • 26Darlow
  • 28Doumbia
  • 29Riviere
  • 42Sterry
Referee:
Craig Pawson
Attendance:
31,824

Match Stats

Home TeamLeicesterAway TeamNewcastle
Possession
Home50%
Away50%
Shots
Home10
Away12
Shots on Target
Home1
Away2
Corners
Home8
Away4
Fouls
Home4
Away9

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Leicester City 1, Newcastle United 0.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Leicester City 1, Newcastle United 0.

  3. Post update

    Corner, Leicester City. Conceded by Jack Colback.

  4. Post update

    Attempt missed. Riyad Mahrez (Leicester City) left footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left.

  5. Post update

    Corner, Leicester City. Conceded by Moussa Sissoko.

  6. Post update

    Corner, Leicester City. Conceded by Andros Townsend.

  7. Post update

    Foul by Jack Colback (Newcastle United).

  8. Post update

    Riyad Mahrez (Leicester City) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  9. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Riyad Mahrez (Leicester City) left footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Jamie Vardy with a headed pass.

  10. Substitution

    Substitution, Newcastle United. Seydou Doumbia replaces Jonjo Shelvey.

  11. Post update

    Georginio Wijnaldum (Newcastle United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  12. Post update

    Foul by Daniel Drinkwater (Leicester City).

  13. Post update

    Attempt missed. Siem de Jong (Newcastle United) left footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Aleksandar Mitrovic.

  14. Post update

    Foul by Jonjo Shelvey (Newcastle United).

  15. Post update

    Jamie Vardy (Leicester City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  16. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Aleksandar Mitrovic (Newcastle United) header from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Andros Townsend with a cross.

  17. Post update

    Attempt missed. Aleksandar Mitrovic (Newcastle United) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Jonjo Shelvey with a cross following a corner.

  18. Post update

    Corner, Newcastle United. Conceded by Robert Huth.

  19. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Moussa Sissoko (Newcastle United) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

  20. Post update

    Moussa Sissoko (Newcastle United) wins a free kick on the left wing.

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Leicester30189353312263
2Tottenham301610453242958
3Arsenal29157746301652
4Man City29156852312151
5West Ham291310645331249
6Man Utd29138837271047
7Southampton30128103830844
8Liverpool2812884337644
9Stoke30127113236-443
10Chelsea29101094339440
11West Brom29109103036-639
12Everton28911851391238
13Bournemouth30108123847-938
14Watford29107122930-137
15Crystal Palace2996143239-733
16Swansea3089133040-1033
17Sunderland2967163554-1925
18Norwich3067173154-2325
19Newcastle2966172854-2624
20Aston Villa3037202257-3516
View full Premier League table

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