Newcastle United qualified for the Champions League for the first time in 20 years on Monday. They drew 0-0 with Leicester in the English Premier League. It’s a watershed moment for a Saudi-owned team with the resources and ambition to become major player in European soccer.
The point ensures that Newcastle cannot be denied a top-four finish heading into Sunday’s encounter against Chelsea.
Leicester’s last game of the season has significantly more at stake, with the club still in the relegation zone and requiring a win at home against West Ham to escape relegation to the Championship – seven years after winning the Premier League at preseason odds of 5,000-1 in a sports fairytale.
Newcastle swarmed all over Leicester at St. James’ Park, hitting the post three times — through Callum Wilson, Miguel Almiron, and Bruno Guimaraes — and pushing goalkeeper Daniel Iversen into a series of saves.
Nonetheless, Newcastle finished last in Europe’s best club event in 2003. They advanced to the second round of the group stage before falling short of Barcelona and Inter Milan. These are the kinds of European giants with whom Newcastle’s players will be rubbing shoulders next season.
“We beat Juventus here 1-0, and I’ve seen that on DVDs — to hopefully be a part of it and be involved in those nights is something special,” said Newcastle midfielder Sean Longstaff.
Newcastle United will play in the Champions League for the first time in 20 years.
Newcastle moved a point ahead of Manchester United with 1 point lead. In theory, they can still finish in the top four provided they avoid defeat at home to Chelsea on Thursday.
United is the only team Liverpool can catch right now in fifth position.
Playing in the Champions League so quickly is likely to exceed the expectations of Saudi Arabia’s national wealth fund, which completed a $300 million ($409 million) takeover of Newcastle in October 2021 and has spent systematically rather than lavishly since.
“If you had told us two years ago that this was going to happen, we wouldn’t have believed you,” Longstaff added.
Leicester has risen above Leeds on goal differential to finish third-to-last, two points below Everton.
With Southampton already confirmed as relegated, two of Leeds, Leicester, and Everton will also be demoted.
“We’ve got to win the game,” Leicester defender Harry Souttar stated of the upcoming encounter against West Ham. “We’ll go in there with a positive mindset, and whatever happens, happens.”