Had it not been for Nick Pope, Newcastle United might not be a Champions League club right now.
While Leicester City were happy to just sit in and defend against Newcastle United last night, they did nearly snatch victory.
A free-kick in stoppage time gave them a chance, and they almost took it. James Maddison’s cross was met by Timothy Castagne, who fired the shot that he thought would keep the Foxes in the Premier League.
But Pope was equal to it, springing to his right to deny the Belgian defender. It was a massive moment from the 31-year-old, who had been a spectator up until that point. He might as well have been stood in the Gallowgate waving a flag or telling his mam he’s off to Italy.
However, he was forced into action in the 92nd minute, when a Leicester winner would have delayed Newcastle’s Champions League dream until the final game. If Castagne had scored, the Magpies would have faced a nervy trip to Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
Pope ensured that did not happen, and then the rebound was bravely cleared by Fabian Schar before Harry Souttar could pounce.
It ended up being a slightly nervy finish for Newcastle, who had to rely on Pope. Shortly after his save, he was called into action again as he rushed off his line to claim a through ball.
Moments like this show why he is an elite goalkeeper, and Eddie Howe was delighted with the former Burnley man.
Eddie Howe thankful for Nick Pope’s ‘big’ moment
After the game, Howe spoke to NUFC TV. He was asked about Pope’s stoppage time save.
“It was a massive, massive save and he’s had nothing to do the whole game,” he said.
“That’s where you need your goalkeeper to really keep his concentration. It was a high class save. He’s been brilliant for us this year. It was another one of his big moments which he’s delivered for us.
“We’re frustrated not to score before that but when you don’t score, the opposition will always get one chance. Thankfully Popey stood up to it.”
Newcastle have a top class goalkeeper
Pope was worth his weigh in gold last night, and showed why he really is top class. The best goalkeepers can be relied on in moments like that, when the have spent the rest of the game doing nothing.
He was alert and ready, and played his part in picking up that all important point. It was also the England international’s 14th clean sheet this season, and his first since the win over Manchester United back in April.
It was another spectacular moment in an excellent debut season on Tyneside for Pope. He has proven to be a bargain at £10million, and will no doubt be our first choice stopper in the Champions League next season.