Crystal Palace 0:2 Leicester City
A run of four defeats in a row against Palace was halted with a fine display at Selhurst Park earning a 2-0 win for City with second half goals from Söyüncü and Vardy.
Not surprisingly Brendan Rodgers stuck with the starting XI that beat Southampton 9-0 for this Sunday trip to south London.
After some early probing by both sides it was City who had the first chance in the 5th minute. Tielemans picked out Barnes with a pass and he took a couple of touches before firing a 20 yarder straight at Guaita.
Palace then had an attacking spell and Zaha set up Ayew for a couple of chances, one shot blocked and the other way off target.
City were beginning to take charge of the game by the 20th minute and a great move upfield involving Barnes and Maddison sent Vardy haring in on the left. But Guaita narrowed the angle well to block his shot.
Moments later Evans sent a header narrowly over the bar from a corner.
McArthur and then Van Aanholt send in wayward shots, before Schlupp had an effort from the edge of the area blocked by Tielemans. It looped up and looked to be heading just under the bar before Schmeichel opted for safety first and tipped it over.
As half time approached Tielemans almost delivered the pass of the season through to Vardy, but the alert Guaita rushed off his line to clear.
Palace started the second half on the offensive and a low Kouyaté cross from the right just evaded Ayew, with Ricardo managing to clear at the far post.
But City then got a grip on proceedings, and good work from Pérez down the right earned a corner. Evans met Maddison’s flag kick with a thumping header that Guaita did well to tip over at full stretch.
A minute later City went ahead from another corner. With all eyes on the threat of Evans, Söyüncü ghosted through the penalty area, the ball skimmed van Aanholt’s head and the City defender stooped to head home his first goal for the club.
As Palace went in search of an equaliser Milivojevic hoisted a free kick into the area and there was a three-way clash of heads involving Cahill, Kouyate and Evans. They all recovered after spell of treatment.
There were then loud appeals for a penalty when a Schlupp shot hit Chilwell, but it struck his raised knee, not his arm.
City made their first change in the 74th minute, with Gray on for Pérez.
Palace continued to press but there was more perspiration than inspiration and some solid defending meant that they rarely threatened Schmeichel’s goal.
Rodger’s shored up that defence, bringing on Morgan for Barnes in the 84th minute, but there was to be no nail-biting finish as City wrapped up the points in the 88th minute with a fine passing move. Tielemans sent a ball in from the left, Gray dummied it, Vardy fed it back to Gray who returned it with a cutback for Vardy to deliver a low shot past Guaita. He then did an ‘Eagle’ celebration in front of the home supporters.
Praet replaced Maddison just before 6 minutes time added on began and he sent a superb 60 yard free kick to Chilwell at the far post, but his low shot struck the inside of the right hand post and somehow stayed out.
It was a well-crafted victory at a ground that has seen many a poor City performance over the years and it saw City back up to third place and Vardy at the top of the Premier League goal chart.
With the pundits talk turning from ‘top six’ to possible title candidates Rodgers was playing things down: “My senior players are first-class. The spirit is very good and they understand we are trying to create something here we can sustain. People asked about European football at the beginning of the season and I said, ‘listen, we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves’ because there are some incredible teams in this league.”
Indeed there are, and it looks as though Leicester City are one of them.
Crystal Palace: Guaita, Ward, Tomkins, Cahill, van Aanholt, McArthur (McCarthy 78), Kouyaté (Meyer 74), Milivojevic, Schlupp, Zaha, Ayew (Benteke 78).
Substitutes: Dann, Hennessey, Camarasa, Kelly.
Leicester: Schmeichel, Ricardo, Evans, Söyüncü, Chilwell, Ndidi, Pérez (Gray 74), Tielemans, Maddison (Praet 90), Barnes (Morgan 85), Vardy.
Substitutes: Justin, Albrighton, Ward, Iheanacho.
Referee: Paul Tierney. Attendance: 25,480.
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