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Newcastle United 2-3 Leicester City - Not a happy birthday

Newcastle United lost again, on a day in which the stage seemed perfectly set for a victory. 

Newcastle United v Leicester City - Premier League
Newcastle were beaten in the final stages, when they thought they had done enough for a point.
Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Despite their poor run of form, the Magpies seemed well up for this game early on. Matt Ritchie's early free-kick was nodded behind for a corner and the atmosphere around St James' Park was tremendous.

They got their reward minutes later. Jacob Murphy sent Dwight Gayle down the left hand side, who cut the ball back for Joselu, who fired in his third of a season. The Spaniard needed that.

It could have been two minutes later, when Mikel Merino won possession in midfield and played Gayle in, but the striker sent his shot wide when he perhaps should have done better.

Newcastle looked full of confidence, but were wary of the threat of Leicester on the counter, particularly Demarai Gray, who cut inside from the left, but smashed his shot high over the bar.

Former Norwich winger Murphy seems to be growing in confidence in a Newcastle shirt, and that was made abundantly clear when he tried his luck from the centre-circle after spotting Kasper Schmeichel off of his line. The ball went harmlessly wide though.

Gray was again afforded too much space to cut inside and get his shot off after that. Luckily for Newcastle, his curling effort went just wide.

Leicester began to take a strangle-hold on the game, and they levelled the score before too long. Merino gave the ball away far too easily in the midfield, Leicester countered and Riyad Mahrez struck a left-footed shot past Karl Darlow from the edge of the box. The goalkeeper perhaps could have done more.

Newcastle United v Leicester City - Premier League
Riyad Mahrez has looked back to his usual self this season.
Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

The Foxes almost turned the game on its head when Marc Albrighton's effort bounced in front of Darlow, who could only parry. Jamie Vardy was caught offside as he tried to get on the end of the rebound.

Vardy found himself played through, and went down under a few challenges, but DeAndre Yedlin appeared to win the ball an no penalty was awarded.

The home side became very laboured in possession, but sprung back into life, and it was Murphy again who was at the heart of it. He curled a shot towards goal, which Schmeichel did well to save.

The second half began slower than the first, with both teams appearing to settle down and try to keep the ball a bit more. Ritchie did create a chance for Joselu from a corner, but the latter powered a header wide.

The methodical pace seemed to suit Leicester more, as the home support began to get restless in the stands. Restlessness became frustration, which then became anguish. Albrighton played a cushioned pass to Gray, who slammed home, courtesy of a Florian Lejeune deflection. 1-2.

Mahrez went close to killing the game off, but was denied by Darlow, who did well to get down to the Algerian's close range strike.

He was made to rue that miss moments later too. A Newcastle corner was half-cleared, but Merino did well to win the header, and Gayle showed great feet, before burying his shot past Schmeichel. 2-2.

Newcastle United v Leicester City - Premier League
Dwight Gayle thought he had earned his side at least a point.
Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

Gayle was having a very good game, and he thought he had given his side the lead. Joselu played him in, but his shot whistled past the post. Very unlucky.

There always looked to be another goal in the game, and unfortunately, it went the way of Leicester. Newcastle were caught out on the break once more, and when Vardy looked to pull the ball back for Shinji Okazaki, the retreating substitute Ayoze Perez inadvertently prodded past his own keeper. Leicester had won it at the death.

A day that should have been special, ultimately ended in a way that was symptomatic of Newcastle United. Hope and expectation, only for things to go wrong. The sooner the sale of the club goes through, the better.