Boss Brendan Rodgers’ hailed Leicester’s resilience after the depleted Foxes recovered from their Europa League exit to thump Newcastle.
James Maddison shone, scoring one and making two, as the Foxes cruised past the struggling Magpies 4-0.
They were dumped out of the Europa League after Thursday’s 3-2 Europa League defeat at Napoli, when they were without seven players who were ruled out with illness or coronavirus.
Jonny Evans also limped off early against the Magpies with a hamstring injury but Youri Tielemans’ brace, including a debatable first-half penalty, and goals from Patson Daka and Maddison lifted Leicester to eighth in the Premier League.
“He (Maddison) was outstanding but I was more pleased with the collective, after all the players we have missing and the tough schedule we have had,” said Rodgers, after a first league clean sheet since the opening day.
“I felt attacking-wise we have looked a threat and some of our play has been very good. To keep a clean sheet was very important for us.
“We finished with plus 26 goals in my first season, last season was plus 18. The basis our of work is based on defending and it gives us that platform to attack.
“It’s very difficult when the players who allow you that basis aren’t available. It’s a testament to the players, their mentality and spirit.
“They have been brilliant in a really challenging period with everything which has gone on. It was a real test of their mentality.
“We have game changers in the team and have leaders. It’s bringing that together to collectively be able to defend.
“When you don’t make the mistakes we are a team who can defend well. Too many of the goals have been of our own making.”
There was little in the contest, with the teams trading half chances, before Tielemans’ controversial opener from the spot six minutes before the break.
Jamaal Lascelles brought Maddison down and while Newcastle felt the midfielder was already going to ground referee Peter Bankes awarded the penalty.
Tielemans converted the spot-kick to mark his 100th Premier League appearance for the Foxes.
Newcastle’s response was muted, especially considering Leicester’s patchwork defence, and they were 2-0 behind after 57 minutes.
Quick passing from the hosts found space and Maddison’s excellent flick sent Harvey Barnes clear to square for Daka for a simple finish.
Kasper Schmeichel saved Timothy Castagne’s blushes when he raced back to clear his miscued backpass off the line before Tielemans made it 3-0 with nine minutes left, collecting Maddison’s pass and firing in.
Maddison then got his fourth goal in six games when he swapped passes with Daka and drilled the ball across goalkeeper Martin Dubravka.
Newcastle were upset at the award of the penalty and boss Eddie Howe felt Bankes got it wrong.
“I don’t think the scoreline was reflective of the game. We were competitive and the penalty has a huge bearing on the game,” he said.
“It wasn’t a penalty in my opinion. Maddison is going over before the contact is made. I’m disappointed the referee didn’t go to have a look at it himself, that would have been the best decision for him to make because it was obviously a contentious moment in the match.
“We’re well aware of the position we are in. There were some good things and some things which weren’t so good.
“We had a lot of opportunities to create but our final decision wasn’t quite right. Defensively Leicester didn’t have any concerted pressure but we allowed them to score four goals.”