Fabian Schar wasted a hat-trick of chances as Newcastle’s hopes of a seventh successive Premier League win were dashed by Leeds.
The Magpies’ best opportunities on an ultimately barren afternoon fell to the Switzerland international and fellow defender Dan Burn, but neither was able to break the deadlock and the Yorkshiremen emerged with a hard-fought 0-0 draw at St James’ Park.
Eddie Howe’s men dominated, particularly after the break, but were unable to find a way past goalkeeper Illan Meslier, and it took a fine save from opposite number Nick Pope to prevent Rodrigo from snatching three points in front of a crowd of 52,211.
As a result, Newcastle ended 2022 disappointed, but still sitting in third place in the table ahead of Tuesday’s trip to leaders Arsenal.
Magpies midfielder Bruno Guimaraes emerged from the tunnel wearing Pele’s number 10 shirt as both clubs paid tribute to his compatriot before kick-off, but the home side found themselves on the back foot when the game got under way.
Wilfried Gnonto fired high over after cutting in front the left with just three minutes gone as Leeds attempted to take the early initiative away from the high-flying Magpies, although Meslier needed two attempts to claim Joelinton’s scuffed attempt at the other end as the hosts responded.
Newcastle eventually established themselves in the game with the link-up between Kieran Trippier and Miguel Almiron down the right starting to pay dividends, and it was the full-back who handed Schar the chance to open the scoring from a 21st-minute corner, although the Switzerland international’s downward header flew agonisingly wide.
Brenden Aaronson saw a dangerous shot blocked seconds later, but the Magpies might have gone ahead when Joelinton headed Trippier’s 24th-minute corner back across goal only for Burn to miss his kick.
Fellow defender Sven Botman did make Meslier work three minutes later when he slid in to meet Trippier’s free-kick, but the keeper saved easily and did so once again after Joe Willock shot from distance.
Jack Harrison, back in the Leeds team after injury, failed to match the quality of his 36th-minute run with a finish which did not trouble Pope, but Tyler Adams had to cover back well to deny Schar a shot at goal after a Newcastle break – with the defender’s ambitious pleas for a penalty going unrewarded.
The home side’s frustration continued immediately after the break when Schar recycled another Trippier corner beyond the far post, only to blast his shot over, before Wood was denied by Meslier after running on to Burn’s knockdown.
Pope was forced into his first genuine save 12 minutes after the restart, diving to his right to turn away Rodrigo’s well-struck effort and Newcastle stepped up a gear to pin Leeds back deep inside their own half.
Meslier repelled Schar’s 62nd-minute header and Sean Longstaff fired over after Joelinton’s enterprising run seconds later, prompting Howe to introduce Callum Wilson and Allan Saint-Maximin to popular acclaim.
Longstaff cleared the crossbar once again after good work by Almiron as an increasingly fractious contest entered its final quarter, but the visitors held firm to claim a creditable draw.
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