Youri Tielemans scored twice as Leicester City returned from their Europa League exit to achieve an emphatic Premier League win over Newcastle United at King Power Stadium.
Tielemans got his first Premier League start since November 7 after a calf injury and converted a penalty kick in the 38th minute after Jamaal Lascelles was sentenced to have fouled James Maddison.
A high-quality attacking move, initiated by Maddison’s sublime pass to Harvey Barnes using the outside of his boot, resulted in a simple finish for Patson Daka as Foxes stepped out of sight in the second half.
After Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel did brilliantly to sprint back and prevent a Timothy Castagne own goal, Tielemans was set up by Maddison for his second before the English midfielder got the goal his impressive performance deserved with five minutes left.
Brendan Rodgers’ team – eliminated from the Europa League group stage with a 3-2 defeat to Napoli on Thursday – moves up to eighth place in the table after just another win in seven league games.
Newcastle, meanwhile, remain in the relegation places and three points from safety.
Maddison in the lead role as Leicester finally gets clean table
Although there is plenty of time for Rodgers to discover what the Europa Conference League is after their European disappointment in the middle of the week, the immediate concern was to address his team’s porous defense after a week in which the Leicester boss was again left to regret defensive “naivety”. .
A team already exhausted from illness suffered an immediate blow when midfielder Jonny Evans was forced out with a hamstring injury six minutes into his 100th Premier League appearance for the club – leaving Wilfred Ndidi to take over the role of temporary center. -back.
Despite this setback, the Foxes recorded the first clean sheet in 17 games in all tournaments against a Newcastle team that managed just three shots on goal, even though Castagne was in debt to Schmeichel’s heroic goal-saving clearing.
In the absence of top scorer Jamie Vardy, resting after playing a full 90 minutes in Naples, it was Maddison who made the difference for the hosts in the attack.
Although Newcastle will feel resentful over the penalty kick – which was given after Maddison crashed into the box and connected with Lascelles ‘stretched legs – the visitors’ defense was left helpless by slippery Leicester play in the second half.
The Foxes, whose hopes of improving on consecutive fifth-places had begun to fade after an inconsistent start, proved back to their ruthless best as they produced three quality goals to move within six points of the top four.
Maddison followed up on his crucial role in Daka’s goal by selflessly teeing up for Tielemans for the Belgian’s second before exchanging passes with Daka to score late.
Relieved to see the end of their 14-match unbeaten start against second-bottom three teams Burnley last weekend, a Newcastle team eager to maintain momentum initially shot an insecure Leicester defense but Miguel Almiron shot into the side netting , and the Paraguayan again failed to exploit after robbing Caglar Soyuncu of possession early.
The first victory seems to be even more important when placed in the context of the matches that await Eddie Howe’s team before the end of the year – with matches against Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United to follow this heavy defeat.