Boss Brendan Rodgers praised Leicester’s resilience after the exhausted Foxes recovered from their Europa League exit to beat Newcastle.
James Maddison shone, scoring one and making two, as the Foxes passed the struggling Magpies 4-0.
They were excluded from the Europa League after the 3-2 Europa League defeat on Thursday in Naples, when they were deprived of seven players excluded due to illness or coronavirus.
Jonny Evans also limped early against the Magpies with a hamstring injury, but Youri Tielemans’ brace, including a questionable first-half penalty, and goals from Patson Daka and Maddison lifted Leicester to eighth place of the Premier League.
âHe (Maddison) was exceptional but I was happier with the team after all the players we missed and the tough schedule we had,â said Rodgers, after a first clean sheet in the league since day one.
âI felt offensive, we looked like a threat and part of our game was very good. Keeping a clean sheet was very important to us.
âWe finished with over 26 goals in my first season, last season was over 18. The basis of our work is defense and that gives us that platform to attack.
âIt’s very difficult when the players who allow you this base are not available. It is a testament to the players, their mentality and their spirit.
âThey were brilliant in a really tough time with everything that happened. It was a real test of their mentality.
âWe have game changers on the team and we have leaders. It is bringing this together in order to be able to defend collectively.
“When you don’t make mistakes, we’re a team that can defend well. Too many goals have been on our own.”
There was little in the game, with the sides trading half-chances, before Tielemans’ controversial debut on the spot six minutes before the break.
Jamaal Lascelles knocked Maddison down and with Newcastle feeling the midfielder was already going to the ground, referee Peter Bankes awarded the penalty.
Tielemans converted the shot on goal to mark his 100th Premier League appearance for the Foxes.
Newcastle’s response was low-key, especially given Leicester’s patchwork defense, and they were 2-0 behind after 57 minutes.
A quick pass from the hosts found space and Maddison’s excellent shot sent Harvey Barnes squared for Daka for a simple finish.
Kasper Schmeichel saved the blushes of Timothy Castagne when he returned to clear his mistaken back pass before Tielemans made it 3-0 with nine minutes remaining, reclaiming Maddison’s pass and shooting.
Maddison then scored his fourth goal in six games when he traded passes with Daka and pierced the ball through goalkeeper Martin Dubravka.
Newcastle were upset with the award of the penalty and boss Eddie Howe felt Bankes was wrong.
âI don’t think the score reflected the game. We were competitive and the penalty has a huge impact on the game, âhe said.
âIt wasn’t a penalty in my opinion. Maddison leaves before contact is made. I’m disappointed the referee didn’t go see him himself, it would have been the best decision for him as it was obviously a controversial part of the game.
âWe are well aware of the position in which we find ourselves. There have been some good things and some not so good.
âWe had a lot of opportunities to create, but our final decision was not quite the right one. Defensively Leicester had no concerted pressure but we allowed them to score four goals.