Newcastle back in Champions League for first time in 20 years | Football News

NEW DELHI: Newcastle qualified for the Champions League for the first time in 20 years after a 0-0 draw with Leicester City on Monday.
Newcastle’s quest for a Champions League place was made easier after fifth-placed Liverpool settled for a draw against Aston Villa last Saturday.
With the result, Newcastle needed just one point from their two remaining games to secure their position in the prestigious tournament.
Howe’s third team achieved their goal on the first attempt at a jubilant St James’s Park.
Howe and his players embarked on a long lap of honor after the final whistle as they soaked in the cheers of the Toon army.
“It’s a big relief actually, an amazing night. You always hope and you have to dream. But we didn’t feel ready for the top four,” Howe said.
“After last season’s relegation battle, it was about whether we could consolidate and become a better team.
“I have to congratulate the whole team because physically it’s a big ask. They really saw the fruits of their own labor.”

Newcastle’s remarkable rise from relegation contenders to the Premier League’s top four in just 18 months is a tribute to Howe’s management and the financial might of the club’s Saudi-backed ownership group.
The Magpies also reached the first domestic final since 1999 this season, losing to Manchester United in the League Cup.
After two decades in Premier League purgatory since Bobby Robson last led Newcastle to the Champions League, the Magpies will believe they can maintain their transformation into trophy contenders now that they are back at heavyweight Europeans.
“The guys have been amazing to me. I can’t praise them enough. Their attitude, their mentality. It’s just amazing,” Howe said.
Just seven years after their fairytale Premier League title triumph, Leicester are set to be relegated from the top flight for the 12th time in their history.
It would equal the English record held by Birmingham, sending them back to the Championship for the first time since 2014.
Dean Smith’s third team from bottom have won just one of their last 15 league games.
They are two points behind fourth bottom Everton and will lose if the Toffees win their last game against Bournemouth, regardless of Leicester’s result in their last game against West Ham.
“What we did was go to the last game and force Everton to win. That’s what we had to do. I don’t apologize for the way we played,” Smith said.
Smith created a major upset by leaving James Maddison and Harvey Barnes on the bench in a bid to be ‘harder to beat’, while Newcastle lost Joelinton to an injury sustained in the warm-up before -match.
They almost had to do without Joelinton’s Brazilian compatriot Bruno Guimaraes and the midfielder escaped with an early yellow card after a cleat challenge slammed into Boubakary Soumare’s thigh.
Newcastle held 80% of possession throughout the game, but Leicester sat deep to frustrate them.
Leicester goalkeeper Daniel Iversen almost gave Newcastle the opening goal, knocking down a hold under pressure from Dan Burn.
Callum Wilson grabbed the loose ball and fired against the post before his header from the rebound was cleared off the line by Wilfred Ndidi.
Newcastle hit the woodwork again moments later through Miguel Almiron’s half-volley after Fabian Schar was knocked down.
Iversen misjudged another cross just before half-time, leaving Wilson with a chance the striker headed in close.
Smith sent Maddison into the interval and Iversen partially redeemed himself with a superb save to rock Alexander Isak’s powerful drive from the edge of the box.
Guimaraes missed a keeper when he headed for the post almost on the goal line after Leicester’s Wout Faes accidentally kicked a corner in his direction.
Leicester came close to winning with their first procedural blow when Nick Pope denied Timothy Castagne in stoppage time, but Newcastle held on to clinch their return to the top of Europe.
(With contributions from AFP)


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