Rafa Benitez congratulates his Newcastle players as club all but secures its Premier League status
Newcastle United all but secured their Premier League status this afternoon thanks to superb goals from Jonjo Shelvey and Ayoze Perez.
Strikes from the pair gave the club a 2-1 win over Leicester City.
The result, a third successive victory for Rafa Benitez's side and Newcastle's first at the King Power Stadium, lifted the club up to 10th place in the Premier League.
Shelvey opened the scoring with a neat finish after he created space with a clever move, and Perez double the advantage when he lifted the ball over a stranded Kasper Schmeichel in the second half.
Jamie Vardy gave Leicester hope with a late strike, but United held on to claim all three points.
"We're nearly there, but we still want to get to 40 points," said manager Benitez. "It was a great game. It was important to work really hard and be organised and understand the strengths of the other team and try to stop them.
"We exploited the weaknesses of the other team really well. We worked great and the workrate and team spirit were great, so I have to say congratulations to my players.
"Everyone knows we are really close, but you never know in football, so you have to carry on. We have to stay as focused as today. When we get to 40 points, we'll be fine."
Newcastle, unchanged for the third successive game, took the game to their hosts, and Ayoze Perez forced an early save from Schmeichel with a near-post header from a Kenedy corner.
The visitors dominated the ball, and United broke down the left in the 18th minute. Perez, eventually, rolled the ball to Shelvey in space just outside the box. The midfielder shaped up to shoot, but inside took a touch before shooting into the bottom left-hand corner.
Shelvey ran to Newcastle's 3,200 fans, situation in one corner of the King Power Stadium.
Harry Maguire clashed with Dwight Gayle four minutes later. The Leicester defender turned and swung at Gayle, who had been harrying him from behind. Referee Stuart Attwell, however, only showed Maguire a yellow card.
United captain Jamaal Lascelles – who had confronted Maguire – was also booked by Attwell.
Leicester started to pressure Newcastle later in the half, and Paul Dummett appeared to bring down Riyad Mahrez in the box. Attwell waved play on to the astonishment of the home fans behind Martin Dubravka's goal.
Claude Puel's side pressed on after the break, and Newcastle had to defend deep and in numbers.
Benitez replaced Kenedy with Christian Atsu in the 63rd minute, and Joselu came on for Gayle.
The game was won in the 75th minute when Florian Lejeune aimed a ball forward at Perez. Wes Morgan couldn't deal with it, and Perez lifted the ball over the advancing Schmeichel to score his sixth goal of the season in all competitions.
Vardy pulled a goal back for Leicester six minutes from time, but United were able to see the game out.
Leicester manager Puel said: "Our performance was too poor in the first half and we have to correct that aspect of our game."
LEICESTER CITY: Schmeichel, Simpson (Okazaki, 56), Chilwell, Morgan, Vardy, Albrighton, Silva, Maguire, Iborra (Choudhury, 41), Mahrez, Diabate. Subs not used: Jakupovic, Gray, Iheanacho, Dragovic, Fuchs.
NEWCASTLE UNITED: Dubravka; Yedlin, Lascelles, Lejuene, Dummett; Diame, Shelvey; Ritchie, Perez, Kenedy (Atsu, 63); Gayle (Joselu, 69). Subs not used: Darlow, Clark, Manquillo, Hayden, Merino.
Goals: Shelvey 18, 75, Vardy
Bookings: Maguire 22, Lascelles 22, Ritchie 53
Referee: Stuart Attwell (Warwickshire)