Leicester City 0:3 Crystal Palace
City suffered a comprehensive 3-0 defeat at the hands of Crystal Palace at the KPS on Saturday, on an afternoon when they simply never got started…
Claude Puel made three changes to his side, with Gray, Iborra and Albrighton restored to the starting XI, and Okazaki back on the bench despite his two goals at Southampton.
After another fine Tifo display in the Kop the game kicked off, though City looked out of sorts right from the start. Passes were going astray and Palace looked up for the challenge.
In the 2nd minute Schmeichel went down after a mid-air collision with Benteke on the edge of the area, but he soon recovered.
Zaha had one dangerous run down the right snuffed out, before Schlupp fizzed a low cross/shot across the goalmouth. Benteke couldn’t get a near post touch and the ball went narrowly wide of the right hand post.
City’s first chance saw Maguire head wide from an Albrighton corner, but the white shirts were soon pressing forward again and Loftus-Cheek forced Schmeichel into a good save with a shot from inside the area.
With City still struggling to get their game together, Palace took the lead in the 19th minute, with their first Premier League away goal since April.
Townsend’s strong run and cross from the right found Benteke unmarked between Morgan and Simpson, and he headed home from close range to end a 13 game barren spell.
Two minutes later Benteke almost found the net with another header, defending an Albrighton free-kick, but it flew inches wide of Speroni’s goal.
Palace continued to look dangerous, with Townsend and Zaha breaking swiftly every time City lost possession, which was often.
A Townsend cross looked destined for Benteke’s head before Schmeichel rose to pluck it from the air.
In the 34th minute Gray fired a low cross in, but it was slightly behind Vardy and his attempted back heel rolled straight to Speroni.
Palace doubled their lead five minutes before the break. Mahrez lost the ball in midfield and Benteke lead the counter-attack, passing to Zaha who sidestepped Chilwell before lashing the ball past Schmeichel.
Neither side made a change for the second half and City still struggled to get out of second gear.
A rare chance came in the 50th minute when Mahrez went on a run down the middle and tested Speroni with decent shot, but the Palace keeper tipped it round the post.
A couple of minutes later Ndidi picked up a harsh yellow card for a foul on Loftus-Cheek.
City finally got the ball in the net on the hour, only to see referee Martin Atkinson award Palace a free-kick after Iborra had pushed Tomkins in the back before nodding the ball home.
A couple of minutes later the frustration of the crowd increased further when Ndidi was presented with a red card for his 21st birthday. Although there was contact from behind as Ndidi entered the area, his theatrical dive was enough to earn him a second yellow.
At the other end Albrighton took Benteke out without touching the ball, for an obvious spot-kick, but Atkinson waved played on.
Claude Puel made his first changes in the 77th minute, bringing Okazaki and King on for Albrighton and Iborra.
Although Okazaki put himself about, it all seemed too late, and the next chance came for Palace when Schmeichel spread himself well to block a Benteke header from close in.
A shot from Townsend flew over the bar before Benteke had an effort deflected for a corner by Morgan.
Palace were enjoying nearly all the possession at this stage, and added a third goal in the fourth minute of time-added-on, substitute Sako curling a fine shot into the top corner to cap a fine win for Roy Hodgson’s side.
City’s winning run had ended and Claude Puel commented: “I think our play was too slow against a good team with a strong defensive unit. We needed to have more quickness, more quality in the play and it was not possible today. I don’t know if it is the tiredness or something but we tried to come back in the second half but I think the red card prevented us from trying other things and to get back in the game.”
Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson, Morgan, Maguire, Chilwell, Ndidi, Iborra (Okazaki 77), Mahrez, Gray, Albrighton (King 77), Vardy (Ulloa 85).
Substitutes: Iheanacho, Hamer, Dragovic, Fuchs.
Palace: Speroni, Kelly, Tomkins, Dann, Schlupp, Townsend, Cabaye (Riedewald 85), McArthur, Loftus-Cheek, Benteke (Sako 88), Zaha.
Substitutes: van Aanholt, Hennessey, Lee Chung-yong, Souaré, Wan-Bissaka.
Referee: M Atkinson. Attendance: 31,081.
PHOTOS: Simon Kimber.
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