Eddie Howe on Monday hailed Newcastle United’s “incredible” players as they qualified for the UEFA Champions League for the first time in 20 years after a 0-0 draw against relegation-haunted Leicester City.
Fifth-placed Liverpool’s draw with Aston Villa on Saturday meant Newcastle needed just one point from their past two games to be assured of a Champions League place.
Howe’s third-placed side achieved their target at the first attempt at a jubilant St James’ Park.
Howe and his players embarked on a lengthy lap of honor after the final whistle as they soaked up the acclaim from the Toon Army.
“It’s a big relief actually, an amazing night. You always hope and you have to dream, but we didn’t feel we were ready for the top four,” Howe said.
“After last season’s relegation battle, it was whether we could consolidate and become a better team,” he said. “I have to compliment the whole squad because physically it’s been a big demand. They’ve seen the fruits of their own labor.”
Newcastle’s remarkable rise from relegation candidates to a top four finish in the Premier League in just 18 months is a tribute to Howe’s management and financial might of the club’s Saudi Arabian-backed ownership group.
The Magpies also reached the first domestic final since 1999 this season, losing to Manchester United in the League Cup.
After two decades in Premier League purgatory since Bobby Robson last led Newcastle into the Champions League, the Magpies believe they can maintain their transformation into trophy contenders now that they are back among Europe’s heavyweights.
“The lads have been unbelievable for me. I can’t praise them enough. Their attitude, their mentality,” Howe said. “I’m just grateful to have the opportunity to manage here. We’ve had great success and that’s satisfying.”
Just seven years after their fairytale Premier League title triumph, Leicester are on the verge of being relegated from the top-flight for the 12th time in their history.
That would equal the English record held by Birmingham City, sending them back to the Championship for the first time since 2014.
Dean Smith’s third from bottom team have won just one of their past 15 league games.
They sit two points behind fourth bottom Everton and would go down if the Toffees win their last game against AFC Bournemouth, regardless of Leicester’s result in their final match against West Ham United.
“What we have done is taken it to the last game and made Everton need to win. That’s what we had to do. I make no apologies for the way we played,” Smith said.
Taiwanese pool player Chou Chieh-yu on Sunday won the Wisconsin Women’s Open, shutting out Britain’s Allison Fisher in the final. Chou, 36, took home a prize of US$17,000 after beating Fisher, 55, in the three-set final of the 64-player 10-ball tournament. Chou found herself on the ropes after losing the first set 2-4, but rallied, winning the next two sets 4-2, 4-1 to take the title. In a post-game interview, Chou, who is also the reigning women’s WPA World 10-Ball Championship title holder, said the Wisconsin victory was beyond her expectations. It was her second consecutive win against the British pool titan this year.
Taiwan’s Lin Chun-yi yesterday bowed out at the Malaysia Masters, defeated in the semi-finals a day after an epic quarter-final against the highest-ranked player left in the men’s singles draw. Lin lost to Weng Hongyang of China 21-13, 21-19 after a draining match against Japan’s Kodai Naraoka a day earlier in which the second game had 59 points. The 23-year-old left-hander had won his only previous BWF match against his Chinese opponent. However, Weng booked a place in today’s final after easing past the Taiwanese battler. He faces India’s H.S. Prannoy, who advanced when Indonesia’s Christian Adinata retired while trailing 19-17 in the
CRYPTIC COMMENTS: James told a post-game news conference that ‘going forward with basketball, I’ve got a lot to think about,’ while ESPN reported that he was retiring Nikola Jokic on Monday outdueled LeBron James as the Denver Nuggets completed a 4-0 Western Conference championship sweep of the Los Angeles Lakers to reach the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history. Two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Jokic bagged a 30-point triple-double as the Nuggets overturned a 15-point halftime deficit for a 113-111 victory that sent the Lakers crashing out and left James reportedly contemplating a shock retirement from basketball. James had looked to be single-handedly keeping the Lakers’ season alive after scoring 31 points in a magnificent first-half display that left the 17-time NBA champions leading 73-58 at
Reigning world champion Ding Liren and top-ranked Magnus Carlsen are to participate in next month’s inaugural franchise-based Global Chess League (GCL), organizers said yesterday. The tournament is to run from June 21 to July 2 in Dubai and feature six teams of six players each, including a minimum of two female players and an “icon” player per team. Carlsen and Ding are to join as two of six “icon” players, along with Indian grandmaster Viswanathan Anand and Poland’s Jan-Krzysztof Duda. The final two names are to be confirmed at a later date, organizers said. “Global Chess League will be a great new event in