Newcastle United return to Champions League after 20 years

Newcastle United
Newcastle United players celebrate after the match. Photo: Action Images via Reuters/Lee Smith

Newcastle United will rejoin Europe's elite in the Champions League next season after a 20-year absence following a 0-0 draw at home to struggling Leicester City which guaranteed a top-four finish in the Premier League on Monday.

It was not quite the glorious home sign-off the fans were expecting as Newcastle dominated from start to finish without finding the net, but they did not really care as the dream of Champions League football came to fruition.

Newcastle had 23 goal attempts to Leicester's one and were denied by the woodwork three times as the visitors dug deep for a point that keeps their survival hopes just about still alive ahead of the final round of games on Sunday.

Eddie Howe's Newcastle are in third place with 70 points and one game to play, four ahead of fifth-placed Liverpool who also have one match remaining. Fourth-placed Manchester United have 69 points with two games left.

Leicester moved up a place above Leeds United on goal difference but remain 18th and must win against West Ham United on Sunday and hope 17th-placed Everton fail to beat Bournemouth.

After celebrating on the St James' Park pitch with his players, Howe was asked what the targets had been back in August.

"Certainly wasn't (top four)," the former Bournemouth manager told Sky Sports. "You always hope and always believe and you have to dream. But we didn't feel we were ready for that.

"After last season's battle against relegation, it really was whether we could consolidate and become a better team and not flirt with relegation like last season.

"I can't praise (the players) enough for that mentality, their attitude what they've given me and the club."

When Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund bought an 80per cent stake in Newcastle in October, 2021, ending Mike Ashley's barren 14-year ownership of the North East club, the initial task was to keep them in the top flight.

Newcastle were 19th in the table and without a win and Steve Bruce was shortly sacked and replaced by Howe.

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