Our Man at the Match = Scott Davies – brings you the view from the stands as we witnessed Okazaki do THAT overhead kick …..
No Rafa Revival as Okazaki is Head over Heels by Scott Davies
Newcastle visited the KP with a newfound spring in their step after the capture of Rafa Benitez on a 3 year deal following the sacking of the Wally with the Brolly, Steve McClaren late last week. Much like Claudio Ranieri, Benitez boasts some impressive teams on his CV with Real Madrid being his last club before parting company in January following reports of unpopularity with supporters and a fall out with players, despite being third in the league, only 4 points behind leaders Atletico Madrid.
Benitez has never lost a debut fixture, however it was always going to be a tough ask to come to the league leaders after only a few days in post and get something out of the game considering the Magpies league position and recent form, however that said, the Foxes had to be alert to the new manager effect and this game suddenly became a little more trickier as a result. Newcastle had lost their last 8 matches played on a Monday and have only scored 7 goals away from home this season, which is 4 less than Aston Villa who sit rooted to the foot of the table. City meanwhile have scored in 26 of their 29 matches prior to this game, more than any other team.
The only change to the Leicester side was on the bench, as Inler came in to replace King who had an illness. The starting line up was the 10th time this season it has remained unchanged.
Newcastle started brightly and had a couple of efforts in the opening 5 minutes, although they never really tested Schmeichel and City settled into the game. The Foxes first real sight of goal came on 18 as N’golo Kante played in Mahrez who got himself into a position on the edge of the box to shoot, however his shot was blocked and went out for a corner. The resulting set piece was headed over by Huth who should have done better to hit the target.
On 24 Riyad Marrez won a free kick on the right wing and the Algerian took the Free Kick and pumped the ball into the 18 yard box. Newcastle cleared their lines but only as far as Albrighton who played the ball back in to the box, Vardy climbed highest and the ball fell to Shinji Okazaki who finished with a superb overhead kick with his back to goal to send the crowd into a frenzy, this time registering 0.5 on the richter scale according to our friends at the University of Leicester.
WATCH THE GOAL FROM THE STANDS HERE….
3 minutes later, City should have made it 2-0. Some neat play by Vardy played in Albrighton who did everything right to get into a position to shoot inside the 18 yard box, but he curled his right foot shot narrowly wide of Elliott’s goal. There were little other chances of note and the game swung in Leicester’s favour at half time.
Newcastle stepped up their game after half time and went in search of a leveller, however they just couldn’t finish in the final third despite playing some nice football at times. Jeff Schlupp came on for Okazaki on 65 and the Ghanaian International had a decent shot blocked just 4 minutes after coming on.
Ulloa came into the fray on 75 replacing Marc Albrighton and the Argentine held up play well from the front. The closing minutes were not overly entertaining with the Foxes chasing to play into the corners and the nervousness was spreading around the ground as City were not at their best. Claudio Ranieri waved his arms about and got the crowd going to help see out the match at 1-0 maintaining the 5 point lead at the top of the Premier League.
Benitez will be pleased with how Newcastle played and with a bit of work on their finishing I think they will beat the drop. Ranieri however won’t be too impressed with the City performance, however we are at the business end of the season when points are more important than performances. Drinkwater was well off his game, Simpson was hit and miss, but was better towards the end and Vardy was not really in the game, however still popped up with an assist. It was dogged performance and we had to dig in, but that is a sign of champions when you don’t play well, but still win.
Just 720 minutes of football remain with a seemingly easier run in than the rest, but as we know, games aren’t won on paper and we need to did in and keep that cushion at the top for as long as we can. Games are running out for the others, but one slip up could really pile the pressure on us.
We have the opportunity to turn that pressure on Spurs as they don’t play until Sunday when City could find themselves 8 points clear, sitting pretty at the top.
Man of the Match – N’Golo Kante.
Next up…. CRYSTAL PALACE AWAY…. watch our FAN CHAT with Jim from Palace Fan TV