Leicester City 1:4 Crystal Palace
Saturday’s 4-1 defeat at home to Crystal Palace proved to be Claude Puel’s last game in charge…
Puel made two changes to his starting line-up with Vardy reinstated as striker for Gray and Fuchs replacing the injured Chilwell.
Before kick off there was a rousing minute’s applause in memory of the great Gordon Banks of Leicester City and England.
City got off to a promising start and won a free kick 30 yards out when Schlupp brought Maddison down. Maddison played it to Tielemans but his shot was closed down and deflected within reach of Guaita in the Palace goal.
In the 9th minute a good run and cross from Barnes saw Vardy flashing his header over the bar. A minute later Vardy teed Maddison up for a shot, which deflected wide off Sakho’s shoulder.
Tielemans then played a one-two with Barnes but his shot was gathered comfortably by Guaita.
A break upfield was halted when Zaha’s challenge on Tielemans saw stud on shin, but he escaped a yellow card.
City were in complete control at this stage, but a low shot from Barnes failed to test Guaita and then Ndidi ballooned an effort well high and wide.
Maddison was brought down twice on the edge of the area, but miscued his first free-kick and his second hit the wall.
After 36 minutes of play frequently punctuated by Palace fouls, referee Anthony Taylor finally produced a yellow card – for a Ndidi trip on Schlupp, which provoked howls of derision from the stands.
City continued to press forward, but weren’t really hurting Palace, and then came the sting in the tail four minutes before the break. After loud appeals for a penalty when Barnes was dispossessed by Tomkins in the area Palace broke upfield. Taylor awarded a very dubious free-kick in the centre-circle but Palace were more alert to the chance and Milivojevic played a quick ball forward to McArthur, whose shot looked to be going wide before Batshuayi stuck out a leg to beat the wrong-footed Schmeichel.
It was Palace’s first chance of the game, and saw City trailing at half time.
Ghezzal, who had sent several passes astray, was replaced by Gray for the second half.
City continued to dominate as they looked for a way back into the game. Fuchs failed to apply enough head to a great Evans cross, and the ball sailed wide.
Maddison then won yet another free kick on the edge of the area, but hit it against the wall again.
Tielemans and Barnes were combining well on the left, but the final ball was always found wanting, as the frustration grew.
Maddison then appeared to try and score direct from a corner but Guaita read the swerving ball well and easily claimed.
City finally made the breakthrough in the 64h minute. Palace failed to clear a Fuchs long throw and the ball fell to Barnes who fired it into the middle where Evans met it perfectly to fire home from 7 yards.
City turned up the pressure in pursuit of a winner, but were caught on the break with 20 minutes remaining. A Maddison corner was hit too long and Palace raced upfield. McArthur picked out an unmarked Zaha with a looping ball and he crashed a side-footed volley past Schmeichel to restore Palace’s lead.
In the 74th minute Puel brought Iheanacho on for Tielemans, and loud booing rang round the stadium.
City wasted a couple of corners, before Palace struck again in the 81st minute.
As Schlupp went past Evans in the area the City defender hung out a leg and Schlupp flew through the air. Taylor pointed to the spot, booked a furiously protesting Schmeichel, and Milivojevic sent the City keeper the wrong way with a cool spot-kick.
Okazaki then replaced Barnes, to more booing, before Palace added a fourth in time-added-on in a half empty stadium. Maguire lost possession trying to carry the ball forward and Palace raced upfield again. Ayew set up Zaha, for a shot that had too much pace for Schmeichel to block.
By the final whistle the stadium was almost empty.
Claude Puel’s comments proved to be his epitath with his sacking announced on Sunday morning: “We tried a lot of good moves, without success.”
Leicester: Schmeichel, Ricardo, Evans, Maguire, Fuchs, Tielemans (Iheanacho 74), Ndidi, Maddison, Ghezzal (Gray 45), Vardy, Barnes (Okazaki 85).
Substitutes: Söyüncü, Morgan, Ward, Mendy.
Palace: Guaita, Ward, Tomkins, Sakho, (Dann 77), van Aanholt, McArthur, Milivojevic, Schlupp, Townsend (Kouyaté 80), Batshuayi (Ayew 86), Zaha.
Substitutes: Meyer, Hennessey, Benteke, Riedewald.
Referee: Anthony Taylor. Attendance: 31,778.
All Photos: Simon Kimber.
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