Leicester City 3:0 Crystal Palace
Following a half-time reshuffle City got their first post-restart win against Palace at the KPS on Saturday, with Jamie Vardy finally getting to the 100 Premier League goals mark.
Despite the City of Leicester entering a new period of Covid-19 lockdown, this game was judged safe to go ahead.
Brendan Rodgers made two changes to his side, with Iheanacho and Perez in for Praet and Barnes, and Maddison a spectator in the stands due to a troublesome hip injury.
An attack-minded City line-up with three at the back took the game to Palace in the early stages, and the first clear chance was created in the 9th minute. An Albrighton cross from the right found Iheanacho unmarked in the area but he mistimed his jump and nodded wide.
Five minutes later City went a bit closer when Tielemans squared for Justin who took a touch on the edge of the area before sending a swerving shot against the crossbar.
With nearly all the play in Palace’s half more chances came and went.
After a goalmouth scramble, a classic striker’s clearance from Benteke went straight to Evans who fed Pérez, but his shot was charged down by what looked like Sakho’s arm. Jon Moss waved away the penalty appeals.
After a delay in which Chilwell received treatment in the dressing room for a heel injury and the drinks break, play recommenced and Palace had a rare chance. Milivojevic, often lethal from free-kicks, curved one just wide of the left hand post.
Much sideways passing followed as City tried to find a way through a well drilled Palace defence and the next chance came in the 37th minute. Pérez pounced on a van Aanholt error and fed the ball through to Vardy but, as in recent weeks, his first touch was heavy and the chance was gone. Vardy booted the post in exasperation.
It was goalless at the break with a growing sense of frustration.
However, that was soon eased in the second half.
With Bennett on for Chilwell, Abrighton on the left and Justin on the right City immediately looked more of a threat and they were soon ahead.
In the 49th minute a good move down the left saw Tielemans deliver a low cross into the corridor of uncertainty. Guaita hesitated, failed to intercept, and Iheanacho was in the right place to side foot home from close range.
City should have gone further ahead when Pérez fed Vardy into the area, and although his first touch was excellent this time, he shanked his shot into the side netting.
There was a rare chance for Palace when Cahill got on the end of a cross but Schmeichel got down smartly to save his header.
In the 64th minute Praet came on for Iheanacho and this was followed by a double sub ten minutes later with Fuchs and Barnes replacing Albrighton and Perez. This rearranged line-up extended the lead immediately.
Schmeichel launched a huge kick upfield and Vardy left the defence in his wake but fell over as he shot wide. He angrily thumped the turf, but fortunately got up again swiftly.
Sakho had the chance to clear the ball up the left but, for reasons known only to himself, he attempted a Cruyff Turn round Barnes and fell flat on his face.
Barnes had the simple task of squaring the ball to Vardy who tapped in from six yards to reach his 100th Premier League goal.
Palace then had an attacking spell which saw the magnificent Evans blocking an Ayew shot, and then Zaha lifting an effort over the bar after a fine ball over the defence from Townsend.
But it was City, and Vardy, who had the final word. It was a classic Vardy breakaway goal. Barnes played him in down the left channel, where he had run from his own half to defeat the offside trap. He showed the Eagles defence a clean pair of heels and then dinked the ball over Guaita as the keeper came out to meet him.
Goal No 101 and a welcome three points for City.
With the chasing pack closing on City’s Champions League place a win at home to Palace was a minimum requirement, but it may prove to be a turning point in City’s season. Just as a gift goal suddenly made Jamie Vardy look like his old self.
Leicester: Schmeichel, Justin, Evans, Söyüncü, Albrighton (Fuchs 75), Ndidi, Tielemans (Choudhury 89), Chilwell (Bennett 45), Pérez (Barnes 75), Iheanacho (Praet 64), Vardy.
Substitutes: Morgan, Gray, Ward, Mendy.
Crystal Palace: Guaita, Ward, Cahill, Sakho, van Aanholt (Mitchell 83), Ayew, McArthur (McCarthy 69), Milivojevic, Riedewald (Kouyaté 60), Zaha, Benteke (Townsend 82).
Substitutes: Dann, Meyer, Hennessey, Woods, Pierrick.
Referee: Jonathan Moss.
PHOTOS: Simon Kimber
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