What jubilant Newcastle United fans chanted during stunning Leicester City win
This really was a black and white Christmas as Eddie Howe’s side beat Leicester City 3-0 thanks to goals from Chris Wood, Miguel Almiron and Joelinton to move up to second in the league.
There had been fears on Tyneside that the break for the World Cup had come at a back time given Newcastle’s pre-tournament form. Fans, it seems, needn’t have worried, as the team has picked up where it left off last month – and has now pushed further up the table.
United, from the first whistle, were relentless for 45 minutes against Leicester, a club which had confounded the odds when it won the Premier League in 2016, and the home side never recovered from conceding three first-half goals.
Howe again insisted this month that he didn’t look at the Premier League table. Newcastle supporters, however, may find it hard to look away from the table over the coming days given the club’s lofty position above champions Manchester City, who play Leeds United at Elland Road on Wednesday night.
A year ago, United were in 19th place. This season, the club is all but safe with less than half a season played thanks to the efforts of Howe, his staff and talented and tenacious group of players.
Yes, there’s a long way to – the club has played 16 games – but this team looks like it’s in it for the long haul.
Howe had made one enforced change for the festive fixture. Wood replaced Callum Wilson in the starting XI after the striker was ruled out through illness.
It took Wood – who had started the club’s previous Premier League game on November 12, the 1-0 home win over Chelsea – just three minutes to make his mark.
The 31-year-old stepped up to take a penalty after Daniel Amartey tripped Joelinton just inside the box – and he emphatically beat Danny Ward in the Leicester goal.
Things got better in the seventh minute. Almiron broke down the right before cutting inside and rolling the ball to Bruno Guimaraes. The midfielder turned towards the box and took a return pass on the edge of the box before rolling the ball past Ward with his favoured left foot.
There were boos from the away end when former Newcastle forward Ayoze Perez replaced the injured Dennis Praet.
Nick Pope and Sven Botman combined to deny Patson Daka at the other end of the pitch midway through the half.
It got even better before the break. Joelinton powered home a header from a Kieran Trippier corner to give Howe’s side a three-goal advantage at the break.
Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers replaced Daka with Jamie Vardy during the interval, but his team didn't have a shot on target, despite having more second-half possession.
Howe waited to make his changes, and Allan Saint-Maximin and Jacob Murphy were sent on for the final few minutes.
The game, by then, had been long won.
NEWCASTLE UNITED: Pope, Trippier, Schar, Botman, Burn, Longstaff (Anderson, 90), Bruno, Willock (Murphy, 84), Almiron (Saint-Maximin, 84), Wood (Ritchie, 89), Joelinton. Subs not used: Darlow, Lascelles, Targett, Manquillo, Fraser.