Leicester 1-0 Newcastle: Okazaki stunner sends Foxes five clear and condemns Benitez to debut defeat
Shinji Okazaki’s wonderful overhead kick pushed Leicester five points clear of the top of the Premier League and condemned Rafa Benitez to a defeat in his first Newcastle game as manager.
Okazaki gave the Foxes the lead after 25 minutes as another ‘Vardyquake’ erupted at the King Power Stadium.
Leicester then shut up shop as the game progressed with N’Golo Kante playing a starring role.
The win puts Claudio Ranieri’s side five points clear of Tottenham and 11 clear of Arsenal while Benitez will have his work cut out to claw Newcastle out of the relegation zone.
Newcastle made a bright start to life under Benitez, with Ayoze Perez and Jack Colback both having early efforts on the Leicester goal.
However, the Foxes quickly woke up with Jamie Vardy running dangerously and Riyad Mahrez’s lively shot being well blocked.
And it was Leicester who made the most of their bright spells when Vardy did brilliantly to beat Colback in the air before Okazaki acrobatically bicycle-kicked the Foxes ahead.
Perez had another effort before the break but Kasper Schmeichel was equal to it to keep the home side ahead at half time.
Kante was arguably Leicester’s best player on the night as he frustrated the Magpies by snuffing out every attack they tried to muster.
Moussa Sissoko had a great chance to equalise but made the wrong choice when he chose to cut the ball back to nobody rather than take a shot on himself.
Benitez will be buoyed with the improvement in possession Newcastle made as the game wore on but they were unable to create anything clear-cut as Leicester held on to go five points clear with eight games remaining.
Newcastle meanwhile are still one point off safety with Sunderland having a game in hand ahead of the Tyne-Wear derby this weekend.