Not their hosts’ last-gasp victory was the most perplexing element of Leicester’s day against Newcastle.
Brendan Rodgers will be more irritated by Leicester’s first goal than by the thrilling breakaway winner courtesy to Joe Willock’s brilliance on the left and Bruno Guimaraes’ lung-busting surge forward as the clock crept past 94 minutes.
Leicester City will remain in the middle of the table. A Europa Conference semi-finalist. It’s evident which games will be crucial for Leicester over the next six weeks. However, they still have eight more league games following this one. This situation offers both advantages and disadvantages. It might be tough to watch and cheer for a football team. On a bright April Sunday, though, it’s nice to just sit back and watch your team play, knowing that success or failure has no actual importance. It’s good to win, but it won’t ruin your weekend in the way that big games do when there’s still something to play for.
As seen by the events that followed Bruno’s late triumph, no one here took survival for granted. They may now be able to relax on 37 points. None of the bottom three will make it to 37 points, and Everton is unlikely to either given their remaining schedule.
Eddie Howe’s use of the phrase “new contract for Sean Longstaff” in the summer might have meant “announce Mbappe.”
Even without the late goal, Leicester had a tough game. Despite the eight changes from Thursday’s remarkable comeback in Eindhoven, they started brightly. One benefit of utilizing Premier League games as top training sessions is that you have greater freedom to explore.
The corner sequence that led to the first goal was fantastic, and it required a lot of moving parts to get it just right. It was merciless against Newcastle’s deep corner defense. Three Leicester players dashed to the six-yard line, leaving the penalty area empty. Ayoze Perez took a long time to get to the near post, but Kieran Dewsbury’s cross was excellent for Ademola Lookman, who came late into the newly vacated space 12 yards from goal. Nampalys Mendy runs a Plan B/safety net towards Lookman on the box edge in the choreography. If the flick had failed, it may have broken to him for a goal-scoring chance while also shutting off a possible Newcastle counter-attack.
A piece of art that has been wonderfully created and executed. Even though only three Leicester players touched the ball, there were eight players involved, including coaches and training time. The fact that Newcastle equalized 11 minutes later from their own corner, Bruno capitalizing on a mistake by Kasper Schmeichel to tuck the ball between the keeper’s legs from close range, adds to the frustration.
Leicester’s league season has been wrecked by set-piece goals, and they are now only focused on Europe. In the semi-finals, Jose Mourinho’s Roma will want to exploit that weakness.
It was just a tie in a game that didn’t matter to Leicester, but it revealed a persistent problem. It is possible that it will happen in Europe during their home season.