Newcastle United 2:3 Leicester City
An 86th minute own goal from Pérez settled a scrappy but entertaining game 3-2 in City’s favour at St James Park on Saturday evening.
Claude Puel sent an unchanged side out, but Newcastle’s 125th Anniversary game soon saw them a goal up.
City had a disjointed start to the game and were caught cold in the 4th minute. Murphy sent Gayle down the left, and he had plenty of room to cut the ball back for Joselu, whose late run into the area set him up for an easy side-foot home from ten yards.
Two minutes later, with City still looking unsettled, Gayle fired a 20 yard shot narrowly side.
City then got their act together and began to press forward. In the 9th minute Gray latched onto a Mahrez back pass and forced Darlow into a near post block.
A minute later Chilwell had a cross blocked by the raised arm of Ritchie but there were few appeals for what looked like a clear penalty.
As City continued to take the game to the home side, Ndidi dragged a shot well wide and Gray went much closer with a curling 25 yarder.
City levelled matters in the 20th minute. Mahrez went on a crossfield run before launching a 25 yarder across Darlow. Although the United keeper got a hand to it he couldn’t prevent it from finding the net.
City were bossing the game now and Albrighton forced Darlow into a fine save from a 25 yarder. Gray then curled in a cross from the left but Simpson couldn’t produce a finish at full-stretch and sent it wide.
In the 28th minute Vardy’s run down the middle looked to have taken him clear of the Magpie’s defence, but Yedlin managed to stick out a leg and deny him with a last-ditch tackle.
Newcastle got back into the game towards the break and a careless pass across defence from Chilwell set up Murphy, whose shot was turned away by Schmeichel.
The City keeper also had to save a Ritchie free-kick before the sides went in even at the break.
City also had a faltering start to the second period with little action apart from Ndidi flooring both Merino and Hayden within a couple of seconds.
But the game burst into life on the hour, with City taking the lead thanks to a lovely move and a slice of fortune. Mahrez found Albrighton on the left with a forty yard pass and he played a delicate cushioned volley inside for Gray, who fired in a shot that took a deflection off Lejeune’s backside that left Darlow stranded.
City were back on top now and Darlow did well to parry a low Mahrez cross away from danger.
But it was Newcastle who were next on the scoresheet in the 73rd minute.
City failed to clear a corner out of the area, not helped by Maguire and Simpson clashing heads, and the ball fell for Gayle who made room for himself before finding the net via a deflection off Maguire.
Claude Puel made his first change after the equaliser, bring Okazaki on for Gray. The Japan international was soon in need of attention, having launched himself head first into a challenge, receiving a kick in the face that gave him a cut above the left eye.
Okazaki was also involved in the 86th minute winner. With the game end-to-end, City broke upfield, Vardy shrugged off a challenge on the left and delivered a cross to an unmarked Okazaki in front of goal. The heavily bandaged striker looked set to score the winner when Pérez poked the ball away from him from behind, but unfortunately for Newcastle, he also sent it past Darlow and into the net.
City killed the game off , with substitutions – Ulloa and Fuchs on for Vardy and Mahrez – and taking the game into the corner, and saw out the win that saw them move up to 8th place.
It was a great result from a patchy performance, as Claude Puel admitted: “It was a fantastic character from my team. It was a difficult atmosphere, we knew this. Also, they were leading but to win in the end is a fantastic feeling. It was a difficult game against a good team. It showed the fantastic spirit of the team, and so did the third goal. It is not our best game but this positive attitude was fantastic.”
Newcastle: Darlow, Yedlin, Lejeune, Clark, Manquillo, Ritchie (Atsu 64), Hayden, Merino, Murphy, (Pérez 71), Joselu, (Mitrovic 88), Gayle.
Substitutes: Elliot, Lascelles, Shelvey, Diamé.
Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson, Morgan, Maguire, Chilwell, Mahrez (Fuchs 89), Ndidi, Iborra, Albrighton, Gray (Okazaki 73), Vardy (Ulloa 90).
Substitutes: Iheanacho, King, Hamer, Dragovic.
Referee: N Swarbrick Attendance: 52,117.
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