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Leicester City v Newcastle United Live Commentary, 14/03/2016

FT
1 - 0
LEI
NEW
S. Okazaki (25)
King Power Stadium

Commentary

That's all for our live coverage from the King Power Stadium, thanks for following along. Goodbye!
Shinji Okazaki's first-half goal restores the Foxes' five-point lead atop the table, spoiling Rafa Benitez's Newcastle bow. Leicester keep marching on in their quest for the title, and they pick up another massive three points, but it was quite nervy towards the end. It's another defining moment in the Foxes' season, as they see aside what was a trickier test than it appeared on paper with the new manager coming into town on the Magpies' touchline.
FULL-TIME: LEICESTER CITY 1-0 NEWCASTLE.
SO CLOSE! The ball still has yet to leave the Newcastle half in stoppage time, and Mahrez nearly provides the exclamation mark as he sends a shot narrowly wide of the woodwork! Last chance for Newcastle to get the ball forward...
The board goes up to indicate three minutes of stoppage time as Leicester play with the ball near the corner flag, winning a pair of corners.
BLOCKED! Mahrez tries to ease the nerves on the break as he gets onto the end of a move inside the area, but his shot is turned aside from in close! Ranieri is very animated on the touchline, urging the players and fans alike to give everything they have over these final few minutes!
S. Doumbia
J. Shelvey
Newcastle United
It's Shelvey who gives way for Doumbia as Benitez brings on yet another striker.
Newcastle pouring everyone forward and it's causing plenty of panic. Tension is very high at the King Power as Leicester heave the ball up the pitch every chance they get. We're in store for a tense finish as Seydou Doumbia gets set to come on.
STAT: The Foxes have won the last two Premier League games against Newcastle United after winning none of the previous seven (D3, L4).
Upon further review, Morgan's arm was a bit away from his body there when he got the first block in on Sissoko's volley. That could well have - and perhaps should have - been awarded as a penalty! It's another defining moment in the title race.
IT'S A MASSIVE BLOCK! Great work from Townsend to beat his man on the flank before sending in a dangerous ball that Sissoko is able to meet atop the area. The Frenchman unloads a volley that has Schmeichel scrambling, but it's blocked by a combination of Morgan and Huth! Everyone holding their breath now.
Leicester taking their time in possession, playing around with the ball on the left flank, near the corner flag. It's not so much time wasting as it is patience from the Foxes, as Fuchs sends a long throw into the area which Elliot nearly makes a mess of. The keeper spills the ball, but he's able to collect just before Ulloa can pounce.
Newcastle aren't showing any real signs of putting this Leicester lead in jeopardy, but it's hard to feel entirely comfortable with just the one goal to the good. It's going to be a nervy end to this match at the King Power, unless the Foxes can find a second.
L. Ulloa
M. Albrighton
Leicester City
An interesting swap here from a Leicester perspective as Ranieri introduces a second striker in the form of Leo Ulloa. Albrighton gives way, meaning Mahrez should move over to the left-hand side.
STAT: Newcastle United have lost their last eight Premier League matches played on a Monday and have failed to score in the last five of these. All eight of these have been away from home.
S. de Jong
Ayoze Pérez
Newcastle United
Siem de Jong makes his return from injury as well, the second Newcastle change of the night. The Dutchman was a high-profile signing when he arrived at St. James' Park at the start of last season, but his tenure has been plagued by injuries. Ayoze Perez comes off to make room.
Should he have gone for goal himself? Mahrez is dangerous as ever on the break as he gets Taylor backing up on his heels. He arrives at the top of the area but lays it off for Schlupp instead of trying a shot himself, and the substitute's effort is easily blocked aside.
The tempo hasn't been very fluid in this second half and Leicester are doing their best to keep it that way. A quicker pace may favour them, but they don't want to give Newcastle any life in attack, content on slowing it down and suffocating the Magpies in midfield.
J. Schlupp
S. Okazaki
Leicester City
The Foxes make their first change as Jeffrey Schlupp is introduced at the expense of Okazaki. The Japan international goes off to a roaring ovation as his goal is the difference at the moment. His contributions have been so valuable to this Leicester side this season, more for his work rate than his scoring, so it's a great moment for him to get that goal - and what a finish it was.
STAT: Newcastle currently have five more points than Leicester City did at this stage last season.
Leicester have had a couple of chances to break but they haven't been able to pick out the required ball. Vardy, especially, is surrounded by white shirts every time he gets in possession, and it's prompted Ranieri to ready his first substitution.
SIDE-NETTING! This is a nice surge from Newcastle as they try to find the equaliser. They're pressing much better now and asking plenty more questions of the Leicester defence. Ayoze gets a shooting chance from atop the area, but his effort is deflected just beyond the near post.
TERRIBLE BALL! Sissoko makes a good run and is played through behind the defence, clearly onside. He's almost spoiled for options in the end as he picks out the wrong pass for Janmaat who can't get a shot off. That was a big chance for Newcastle.
A. Townsend
V. Anita
Newcastle United
Rafa Benitez makes his first substitution as Newcastle manager and it sees with it the return of Andros Townsend from injury. It's a positive switch from the Spaniard as defensive-midfielder Vurnon Anita is the one replaced.
STAT: The Magpies have scored just eight goals in their last 20 Premier League away games, failing to score at all in 13 of these matches.
Appeals for a handball are turned aside by Craig Pawson, but the referee awards Leicester a free-kick just seconds later on the very edge of the top of the area as Janmaat trips up Vardy. It's almost too close for the Foxes to try and get the ball over the wall and on target, however, as Fuchs drives an effort straight into the body of a defender.
Leicester are looking much more dangerous now as they pass the ball around with intent in the attacking half. Their movement is superb, enough to cause panic in the Newcastle defence, as they visitors are very much on their heels at the start of this second half.
Sissoko does well to show Mahrez onto his right and squeeze him out towards the end line, but undoes all that good work with a needless foul. The ensuing delivery from the edge of the area is whipped in for Huth at the far post, but the centre-half can't rise high enough to make clean contact.
Back underway at the King Power!
Shinji Okazaki's first league goal at the King Power Stadium is a massive one for the Foxes who are on their way to spoiling Rafa Benitez's Newcastle debut. Chances have been few and far between, but as champions should do, Leicester have made the most of their limited opportunities to take the lead with them into the interval.
HALF-TIME: LEICESTER CITY 1-0 NEWCASTLE.
There will be just one minute added on at the end of this first half.
Sissoko has been very inconsistent in this first half. The midfielder has been lively off the ball, but so sloppy in possession. He's such a well-rounded player but hasn't found that next gear which he had early in his Newcastle tenure. Perhaps the new manager will help.
The ball is being contained largely in midfield over the last few minutes, with neither side showing much urgency to get on the front foot. Leicester are the more fluent side in possession, but they're finding it difficult to pass their way through the mess of white shirts in midfield.
There's no real threat being posed to Schmeichel in goal. He's proved such a calming figure at the back for this Leicester team all season, commanding his area with great confidence and authority - and what a remarkable achievement it would be to follow in his father's footsteps and win the Premier League title (even more impressive as, with all due respect, Leicester aren't Manchester United).
STAT: Claudio Ranieri's team have kept a clean sheet in five of their last six Premier League home matches, but conceded two goals in their last league game there (2-2 v WBA).
The tempo has fizzled out a bit as Newcastle try and generate a bit of momentum going forward. It has been very comfortable for Leicester still, however, as they remain content allowing the visitors possession before hitting back with pace.
Even the arrival of a new manager can't change the reality of the situation Newcastle are faced with. They've had such a hard go at it this season that when they do fall behind it's almost as if they start to think, "please, not again." They need to put the past behind them and just play football, because there's plenty of talent in the team.
Leicester are such a dangerous team to fall behind, as they have shown time and time again. Teams have to come at them when playing from behind, which is exactly what the Foxes relish. They are a force to be reckoned with when playing with the lead, and it's a large part of the reason they're sitting atop the table.
Inches wide! Albrighton sprints forward on the end of a pass from Vardy on the counter, and uses Taylor as a shield to block the view of Elliot. When he gets into the right position, he tries to curl a shot in at the far post, but it skips just beyond the frame of the goal! So nearly a second, that.
STAT: Newcastle have failed to score in 12 of their Premier League games this season; a joint league-high alongside Watford and Aston Villa.
J. Vardy
Assist
Leicester City
Vardy picks up the assist, but there were plenty of pieces that needed to come together in the build-up there.
S. Okazaki
Goal
Leicester City
EUPHORIA AT THE KING POWER! Taylor's errant header comes to Vardy at the head post, and he does well to head the ball across for Okazaki, who slots the ball in at the near post with an absolutely outstanding overhead kick! That took some wonderful skill! It all stemmed from a cheap free-kick given away by Colback.
All signs point to Leicester having to be patient. It will be a real test of their mental fortitude, not just tonight, but over the remainder of the season as teams start to play back on them, not allowing them to counter. They're going to have to wait for their openings, but they seem fine with it.
No one's there! Good work by Shelvey to win a pair of headers in midfield and start Newcastle on the break. Wijnaldum plays Mitrovic into the area, along the right edge of the box, and the striker rolls a teasing pass across the face of goal - but Sissoko didn't charge on to meet it or he could have had a simple tap-in!
Not far away! Albrighton floats an inviting free-kick into the area, where Huth absolutely over-powers Lascelles to get his head to it. Instead of going for power, he tries to just place it into the top corner, which catches Elliot by surprise, but it lifts over the bar.
STAT: The Foxes haven’t done the double over Newcastle since the 1974-75 campaign, despite being in the same division in 24 different seasons since then.
Leicester have started to take the game over, with Newcastle not managing any sort of attack since before the 10-minute mark. The visitors aren't dropping everyone back in defence, but Sissoko and Ayoze have done well to produce the necessary cover on the flanks up to this point.
Vardy gets his first chance to run at the defence, after Albrighton wins the ball along the flank and gets it over to the striker straight away. He bursts into the area and goes down under a challenge from Janmaat, with the entire ground shouting for a penalty that was never going to be given. Even Vardy's protests were rather tame.
Better, this, from Leicester. They've brought more width into attack and are starting to chase the ball down with more gusto when Newcastle do get in possession. It's such a massive game for both teams, though, so this rather timid back and forth shouldn't come as much of a surprise.
Leivester have shown signs of nerves thus far, but are slowly starting to settle in. They have yet to really test the Newcastle defence, however, with pace surprisingly lacking from the team in attack. They will be content to allow the Magpies to get at them, to help open up lanes on the counter.
STAT: Rafa Benitez is managing his seventh club in Newcastle United. In his debuts with the previous six, his sides have kept five clean sheets and never once suffered a defeat (W2, D4).
Great start to this match from Newcastle. The new manager seems to have inspired them quite a bit. You can bet Benitez challenged his players individually before the match to show their worth and prove their value to the club - and it's working for them early on.
Nervy moments at both ends in these early stages. Sissoko sprints to chase down an errant pass over the top, and Wes Morgan doesn't realise how quickly the Frenchman is closing down. His back-pass for Schmeichel nearly makes a mess for the Foxes, but the keeper deals with it. Back at the other end it's a long throw that makes its way all the way through to Elliot, amidst a mess of bodies.
All eyes on the King Power Stadium this evening for what is a massive match for both ends of the table - and it's officially underway!
Rafa Benitez's first Newcastle XI brings with it a couple of changes. Paul Dummett misses out with a hamstring injury, forcing Jack Colback to drop to left-back, making room for Vurnon Anita in midfield. The Spaniard has elected to pick Aleksandar Mitrovic to lead the lines in attack, supporting by Georginio Wijnaldum who lies right behind the forward in the number 10 role. Ayoze Perez plays out wide, opposite Moussa Sissoko, while Papiss Cisse, Fabricio Coloccini and Andros Townsend still injured. Siem de Jong is a welcome return from a crowded training room and has been included amongst the substitutes.
Claudio Ranieri names the same starting line-up for the eighth time in the last 10 Premier League matches, again making no changes to the side who defeated Watford at Vicarage Road last weekend. The only question was the fitness of superstar Riyad Mahrez, who appeared to pull a muscle in the victory over the Hornets last week, but it proved to be nothing to worry about and he's in the team again, opposite Marc Albrighton, providing the support for the strike duo of Jamie Vardy and Shinji Okazaki.
SUBS: De Jong, Saivet, Townsend, Darlow, Doumbia, Riviere, Sterry.
NEWCASTLE (4-2-3-1): Elliot; Janmaat, Taylor, Lascelles, Colback; Sissoko, Anita, Shelvey, Ayoze; Wijnaldum, Mitrovic.
SUBS: Amartey, Schlupp, Gray, Ulloa, Wasilewski, Schwarzer, Inler.
LEICESTER CITY (4-4-2): Schmeichel; Simpson, Morgan, Huth, Fuchs; Mahrez, Kante, Drinkwater, Albrighton; Okazaki, Vardy.
CONFIRMED TEAM NEWS:
On the other touchline, Rafa Benitez makes his Newcastle bow tonight – in what is an incredibly tricky fixture to navigate. The Spaniard brings tremendous experience to St. James’ Park, but most of his practical training has come managing teams through title races, not relegation scraps. Whether his expertise will translate accordingly remains to be seen, but he should certainly bring a breath of fresh air to a team in desperate need of some inspiration.
Hello and welcome to live coverage of this mouth-watering Premier League clash between leaders Leicester City and Newcastle United from the King Power Stadium. The Foxes have a real sense of destiny about them as the Premier League season rounds the final turn and heads toward the home stretch. Tottenham’s victory yesterday means Leicester’s lead at the summit has shrunk to two points, but their can restore the five-point gap if they take care of business tonight in what should be a boisterous King Power Stadium.