Ayoze Pérez

Newcastle Claim The Boxing Day Points

Leicester City's return to Premier League action on Boxing Day ended with a 3-0 reverse to Newcastle United at King Power Stadium.
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Chris Wood, Miguel Almirón and Joelinton netted first-half goals for the high-flying Magpies in City's first top-flight outing since 12 November.

Two changes to the XI which eased to a 3-0 win at MK Dons in the Carabao Cup before Christmas saw Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall and Patson Daka return for the Foxes. Brendan Rodgers, on the other hand, was taking charge of his 300th Premier League match as a manager.

Fifty-eight days after the last first tier match at King Power Stadium, due to the FIFA World Cup break, the old routines finally returned. The Blue Army were back on Filbert Way, singing When You're Smiling, as a sea of blue and white flags greeted City when they emerged from the tunnel.

There was a period of applause ahead of kick-off for England's World Cup winner George Cohen MBE, who sadly died last week. Both sets of players also took the knee to reassert their commitment to defeating racism and all forms of discrimination before the first whistle. 

A slow start would cost the Foxes, as Daniel Amartey stepped on Joelinton's foot inside the area. Former Leicester striker Wood took to the spot and smashed a third-minute penalty past Danny Ward. A cutting pass from Bruno Guimarães then opened up the home side again on seven minutes. 

Almirón was the man to slot it into the net to make it 2-0 to Eddie Howe's outfit. Newcastle were making City fight for every ball and it would take them 10 minutes to have a go at Nick Pope's goal. Luke Thomas won the ball on the left and skidded it into Daka, but the Zambian clipped it over the bar.

Rodgers was soon forced into an unscheduled early change when Dennis Praet landed awkwardly inside his own 18-yard box, necessitating the introduction of ex-Magpies forward Ayoze Pérez. After a run of six wins in seven games for Rodgers' men, this was turning into a day to forget for the Foxes faithful.

Leicester went desperately close to halving the arrears soon after. Dewsbury-Hall slipped in Daka and City's No.20 was able poke the ball towards goal. Pope raced off his line to save, but it ricocheted off Daka's chest and towards an empty net, until Sven Botman hooked it away at the last.

From almost getting back into the game, to conceding a third, matters took another turn for the worse on 31 minutes. Kieran Trippier's corner was pinpoint, and Joelinton rose highest to bullet a header into the net. The home side hadn't conceded in four consecutive games beforehand, but it was 3-0.

The deficit would remain at three at half-time with Guimarães firing straight at Ward and Wood chipping another effort over before the break. The introduction of Jamie Vardy offered hope for Leicester after the interval. The first act of the second half, however, came as Botman blazed over for Newcastle.

Vardy was unleashed down the right channel by a perfect Pérez pass six minutes in, but there was nobody at the far post to tap his cross into the net. That Pérez-Vardy combination worked again on the hour. This time Barnes was closer to Vardy's ball into the box, but it flew across the goalmouth again.

City so nearly got the slice of luck they needed when Vardy nodded it down to Barnes, under pressure in the area. The No.7 wrestled with 6ft 4in Dutchman Botman before the ball bounced off Dan Burn's shin and bobbled inches wide of Pope's bottom corner.

Nigerian duo Wilfred Ndidi and Kelechi Iheanacho gave City fresh legs for the final 20 minutes, with Boubakary Soumaré and Barnes making way. Iheanacho, later flagged offside, headed narrowly wide in the latter moments, before Dewsbury-Hall's half-volley was collected by Pope too.

Ndidi's volley was also straight at the Magpies stopper. While Vardy's shot came off Pope's leg and onto the post late on, Leicester's No.9 was offside. Wout Faes made a goal-line clearance to deny Jacob Murphy from adding a fourth in added time, although there was another raised flag on the far side.

Major moment

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Danny Ward

Danny Ward can't get to Chris Wood's early penalty at King Power Stadium.

Conceding a penalty inside three minutes was far from ideal for the Foxes, especially against a Newcastle side fuelled by positive momentum. Ex-City striker Chris Wood finished empathically, before Eddie Howe's men saw out a three-goal victory in the East Midlands. 

Where do we stand?

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Brendan Rodgers

Brendan Rodgers watches on from the home dugout.

Brendan Rodgers' men sit 13th in the Premier League, on 17 points from 16 games, with a goal difference of -3.

Coming up - Liverpool (A)

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Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall

Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall jostles for possession against Newcastle.

A trip to Anfield to tackle Liverpool is Leicester's final assignment of 2022 on Friday (8pm kick-off). Fulham then visit King Power Stadium on Tuesday 3 January (7:45pm kick-off). All times GMT.

The details...

Leicester City Crest

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