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100 up for Vardy as Leicester cash in on Palace gifts

Leicester City 3:0 Crystal Palace

Leicester City v Crystal Palace - Premier League

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.

Leicester City v Crystal Palace - Premier League

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.

Leicester City v Crystal Palace - Premier League

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.

Leicester City v Crystal Palace - Premier League

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.

1920 crystal palace c

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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Leicester reclaim third place with a win at Palace

Crystal Palace 0:2 Leicester City

1920 palace away

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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Palace defeat is Claude Puel’s Waterloo

Leicester City 1:4 Crystal Palace

Leicester City v Crystal Palace - Premier League

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.

Leicester City v Crystal Palace - Premier League

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.

Leicester City v Crystal Palace - Premier League

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.

Leicester City v Crystal Palace - Premier League

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.

Leicester City v Crystal Palace - Premier League

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.

Anthony Taylor. Attendance: 31,778.

All Photos: Simon Kimber.

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Leicester drift to defeat as Palace break Zaha jinx

Crystal Palace 1:0 Leicester City

1819 palace away

A very poor City performance saw them lose 1-0 at Crystal Palace on Saturday…

Claude Puel made four changes to his starting line-up with Vardy and Maguire returning from injury, Albrighton back in, and Fuchs replacing the injured Chilwell.
But if this was a side that looked very close to City’s strongest, they didn’t play like it.
There was an early scare when Maguire went down clutching the knee that had kept him sidelined since early November, but he recovered after treatment.
City then had the first chance of the game, but Ndidi blazed his shot over.
There were few notable incidents for most of the first half, played out in pouring rain.
In the 24th minute an Ayew cross found the roof of the net.
Then, four minutes later, Vardy netted after a coming together with Palace keeper Guaita, but the goal was ruled out. Replays seemed to show that the keeper was rather lucky, with it looking like a 50-50 challenge.
Soon after this Vardy got his head to a Fuchs cross but failed to test Guaita.
A rare moment of quality in a midfield scrap of a game saw Palace take a 38th minute lead. Milivojevic collected the ball 20 yards out and was allowed time and space to line up a fine shot that beat Schmeichel to his right. Son was allowed to do the same in the Spurs game the previous week.
Palace pressed forward as half time approached and Meyer sent a low shot inches wide. McArthur then went on a run into the area, but threw himself down as Ricardo came in to challenge, earning himself a yellow card.

Claude Puel made a change for the second half with Ghezzal on for Maddison. Gray was moved into the centre, but wasted a couple of chances that went flying over the bar.
Gray then attempted to beat the entire palace defence on his own, a lucky deflection setting him up for a shot on the turn that went wide.
After a couple of off target shots from Palace, City put a decent move together but Ghezzal side-footed wide.
Puel made his second change in the 72nd minute, bringing Iheanacho on for Gray.
City’s best move of the game almost produced a goal in the 78th minute. Ghezzal and Iheanacho combined to slice through Palace’s back line and set up Vardy, whose poked effort was well saved by Guaita. The ball hit the inside of the left hand post and went straight back into the keeper’s grasp.
It was City’s last decent chance and they ended a miserable afternoon in South London with no goals and no points. Palace hadn’t been any better, but summoned up one special moment that won the game.
City’s performance had been lacking in direction, with the fans, and quite possibly the players unsure of what the plan was.
The pressure is beginning to build on Claude Puel again, and City moved down to 12th place.

Crystal Palace: Guaita, Wan-Bissaka, Kelly, Sakho, van Aanholt, McArthur, Kouyaté (Schlupp 65), Milivojevic, Meyer (Puncheon 90), Townsend, Ayew (Sørloth 78). Substitutes: Speroni, Ward, Dann, Wickham.
Leicester: Schmeichel, Ricardo, Morgan, Maguire, Fuchs, Mendy, Ndidi, Albrighton (Okazaki 89), Maddison (Ghezzal 45), Gray (Iheanacho 73), Vardy.
Substitutes: Simpson, Evans, Ward, Iborra.

Referee: Michael Oliver. Attendance: 24,738.

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Woeful Leicester destroyed at Palace

Crystal Palace 5:0 Leicester City

1718 palace away

A truly dreadful performance by City saw them thrashed 5-0 by Palace at Selhurst Park on Saturday…

Claude Puel made two changes to his side, starting Choudhury ahead of Silva, and reinstating Morgan for Dragovic.
City had the first chance soon after kick off when Sakho underhit a back pass to Hennessey, but the Palace keeper got to the ball a split-second before Vardy.
Palace then applied some pressure with a couple of corners, before Iheanacho headed over from a Chilwell cross.
At the other end Hamer miscued a punch sending the ball straight to the head of Tomkins, but Iheanacho cleared off the line.
There was another goal-line clearance five minutes later when City broke upfield and Iheanacho played Vardy in for a shot, but Ward had scrambled back to block his effort.
A minute later, City went behind. A fine move involving Loftus-Cheek and Cabaye found McArthur on the edge of the area, and his back-heel found an unmarked Zaha who crashed the ball past Hamer.
City attempted to get back on level terms, but looked slow and pondrous against a more energised Palace side and Hamer had to pull off a fine save to deny Zaha on the half hour. Three minutes later Morgan got a crucial touch to divert a corner away from the lurking Palace strikers.
But City fell further behind in the 38th minute, when Zaha set up McArthur, whose low shot on the turn arrowed past Hamer into the bottom left hand corner.
The half time whistle ended the worst 45 minutes of Puel’s tenure, at least until the second half.

Two changes were made at half time, Diabate and Silva replacing Iheanacho and Choudhury, but five minutes into the second half a third had to be made when Ndidi limped off with a hamstring injury. Dragovic came on and Maguire was moved into midfield.
City’s afternoon got worse in the 56th minute when Zaha chased a long ball and Albrighton put an arm across his chest, bringing him down. As he was the last man Mike Dean had little option but to show him a red card. You had to feel for Albrighton, who has been forced into a right back berth that he simply isn’t suited to.
Palace were lacking the intensity they had in the first half but City looked clueless, losing possession and apparently with no planned route to goal. Vardy was virtually a spectator.
But Palace then provided a grand finish, that had Selhurst Park rocking. In the 81st minute Loftus-Cheek beat the offside trap to stroll round Hamer and roll the ball into the net.
Three minutes later it was 4-0, as Hamer came off his line to block a Schlupp effort, but van Aanholt followed up with a low shot into the far corner.
In the 90th minute Maguire’s clumsy challenge on Benteke saw Mike Dean award a penalty. Benteke fired his spot-kick down the middle for 5-0 and City’s misery was complete.

It was the worst performance in years and had many City supporters demanding the head of Claude Puel. Two years ago City were heading towards the Premier League title, so many wrong decisions have been made since then.

Crystal Palace: Hennessey, Ward, Tomkins, Sakho, van Aanholt, McArthur (Schlupp 83), Milivojevic, Cabaye, Loftus-Cheek (Lee Chung-yong 86), Townsend (Benteke 86), Zaha.
Substitutes: Speroni, Sørloth, Wan-Bissaka, Kelly.
Leicester: Hamer, Albrighton, Morgan, Maguire, Chilwell, Mahrez, Ndidi (Dragovic 51), Choudhury (Silva 45), Gray, Iheanacho (Diabaté 45), Vardy.
Substitutes: Simpson, Jakupovic, Fuchs, Barnes. 
Referee: M Dean. Attendance: 25,750.


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Woeful Leicester humbled by Palace

Leicester City 0:3 Crystal Palace

Leicester City v Crystal Palace - Premier League

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.

Leicester City v Crystal Palace - Premier League

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.

Leicester City v Crystal Palace - Premier League

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.

Leicester City v Crystal Palace - Premier League

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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Leicester storm the Palace and restore Premier League pride

Leicester City 3:1 Crystal Palace


City’s Premier League season got back on track on Saturday, thanks to a vibrant 3-1 win over Crystal Palace at the KPS…

Claudio Ranieri made a couple of changes to his starting XI with Vardy and Albrighton making way for Okazaki and Musa, and they proved to be inspired choices.
Before the kick off there was a minute’s applause to mark the recent passing of the King of Thailand.
City were presented with a gilt-edged chance in only the second minute when Palace keeper  Mandanda fluffed a clearance and sent the ball straight to Okazaki. But the Japan striker hurried his attempted lob from 20 yards out and his effort drifted wide of the left hand post.
But it was Palace who had the better of the opening 20 minutes.
Cabaye fired an effort from distance, and Morgan blocked a Zaha shot, before Benteke got onto the end of a Kelly cross but sent his header against the bar.


City, with Okazaki as their beating heart, and Drinkwater and King combining well, began to take control midway through the half.
Slimani was charging after everything and sent a couple of headers narrowly off target, and then Okazaki got his head to a Mahrez shot but the ball narrowly cleared the bar.
With half-time approaching, City made a vital breakthrough.
Musa started a move down the left, Slimani and Okazaki battled through a wall of yellow shirts to return the ball to the Nigerian, and he side-stepped his marker before firing home his first goal for the club.


City continued in the same vein after the break, and Slimani sent a diving header from a Mahrez cross a couple of inches wide of the right hand post.
The lead was doubled in the 62nd minute. A Drinkwater cross from the left was cleared at full stretch by Delaney, but Okazaki was following up and produced an unstoppable shot for his first Premier League goal since March.
Alan Pardew’s side tried to drag themselves back into the game with an attacking spell, but Schmeichel blocked a Zaha shot at his near post, and then showed great reactions to deny Cabaye at close range.
Simpson then cleared a Benteke effort off the line before Claudio Ranieri made his first change with 15 minutes remaining, Vardy replacing Slimani.


City’s third goal arrived in the 80th minute. As they hit Palace on the break, Vardy’s cross from the left beat everyone, but Musa’s hard work in chasing it down earned a corner.
Mahrez’s flag-kick was headed clear by Benteke, but the ball sat up nicely for Fuchs, 22 yards out, and he rifled home a superb half-volley. It was the Austrian’s first goal for City, but worth the wait.
Schmeichel raced out of goal to deny Benteke in a one-on-one  late on, but was finally beaten in the 86th minute when Cabaye provided a neat finishing touch to a Zaha cross from the right.
At the other end Mahrez saw his shot blocked by Mandanda, but City were more than happy with a well-earned 3-1 victory.
It was a big-hearted performance that proved the City squad had the strength in depth required to tackle two competitions.

Claudio Ranieri told the post match press conference: “This was the shape and model of last season. It’s when everyone is concentrated and doing their job. We know our weakness but we also know our strengths. Crystal Palace are a very good team. They were better than us for the first 20 minutes and moved the ball very quickly. It was difficult for us but after that we put in a very good performance.”

Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson, Huth, Morgan, Fuchs, Drinkwater, King (Amartey 87), Mahrez, Musa (Gray 81), Okazaki, Slimani (Vardy 75). Subs Not Used: Zieler, Schlupp, Albrighton, Ulloa.
Palace: Mandanda, Ward, Tomkins, Cabaye, Townsend (Campbell 72), Zaha, Ledley (Lee 72), Benteke, McArthur, Delaney, Kelly (Fryers 77). Subs Not Used: Flamini, Hennessey, Wickham, Sako.

Referee: M Oliver. Attendance: 31,969.

PHOTOS: Simon Kimber. 



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Mahrez winner at Palace keeps the dream alive

Crystal Palace 0:1 Leicester City

2015-16 cpalace away a

Leicester went 8 points clear at the top of the Premier League with their third consecutive 1-0 win against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Saturday…

Claudio Ranieri was able to name an unchanged line-up against a Palace side who had yet to win in 2016, but the Eagles carved out an early chance.
Bolasie’s turn and low shot didn’t unduly test Schmeichel.
City had a more clear cut chance in the 10th minute when a superb Drinkwater ball sent Mahrez in on goal, but outrushing Hennessey blocked with his legs and Dann tidied up the rebound.
In a good spell for Palace, Bolasie had a shot blocked by Morgan and then he sent a dangerous cross over for Zaha, but he failed to find the target at the far post.
But it was City who delighted their followers with a 34th minute lead.
Another slide rule ball from Drinkwater sent Vardy in on the left, and his low cross square across the penalty area was met with a cool side-foot finish from Mahrez, who had timed his run perfectly.

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Another Bolasie shot then deflected off Morgan but Schmeichel reacted well to save with an outstretched leg.
The last chance of the half came when Albrighton cut in from the left and fired in a shot that forced a fine save from Hennessey.

Alan Pardew brought on Kelly and Sako for the second half, while an unchanged City went close though the lively Okazaki early on.
Schmeichel had a busier half, punching away a Cabaye free-kick, and saving a goal-bound Sako effort as Palace pushed forward in search of an equaliser.

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But City should surely have had a penalty in the 80th minute when Dann not only pulled, but completely removed Huth’s shirt. But there was to be no comfort zone for City in a nervy closing spell.
Schmeichel saved from Sako, Cabaye went close with another effort and then the City keeper knocked the ball against substitute Ulloa’s head, with both thankful to see it fly wide of the post.
Delaney denied Vardy a goal with a very timely challenge before the most heart-in-mouth moment arrived in stoppage time.
Former-fox Delaney got on to the end of a Dann’s header, but his shot struck the bar.

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It was Palace’s last chance, and the final whistle saw City 8 points clear at the top of the table, sparking a remarkable 20 minute rendition of: “We’re going to win the league.” by a delirious away section that ignored tannoy pleas for them to make their way out of the ground.
There is still a long way to go in this title run-in but this wonderful City side continue to hurdle every challenge.
Claudio Ranieri waxed lyrical: “Sometimes I’ve said we are at the last turn and now we are on the final, home straight. Now I want to see my horses, how they run.”

Palace: Hennessey, Ward, Dann, Delaney, Souare (Kelly 46), Jedinak (Gayle 78), Ledley, Cabaye, Zaha, Bolasie, Adebayor (Sako 46). Subs Not Used: Speroni, Campbell, Mutch, Puncheon.
Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson, Huth, Morgan, Fuchs, Kanté, Drinkwater, Mahrez (Schlupp 85), Albrighton, Okazaki (Ulloa 76), Vardy (Amartey 90). Subs Not Used: Schwarzer, Wasilewski, Inler, Gray.

Referee: M Jones. Attendance: 25,041.

ALL PHOTOS: Simon Kimber


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Leicester see off Palace with record-breaking Vardy goal

Leicester City 1:0 Crystal Palace

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Jamie Vardy scored the only goal of a tough contest against Palace at the KPS on Saturday, so becoming the first City player ever to score in seven consecutive top-flight games…

Claudio Ranieri made one change to his side with Mahrez in for Okazaki and they enjoyed a fine opening spell that had Palace on the back foot.
In the 8th minute Albrighton cut in from the right and hit the inside of the far post with a shot across goal. The rebound fell for Mahrez who stroked it a foot wide of the same post.
Mahrez then tested Hennessey with a 20-yarder before Kanté fired over from the edge of the box.
Drinkwater struck a decent half-volley from distance but Hennessey was right behind it.
Palace then had a rare sortie upfield but good work from Morgan and Huth prevented Bolasie from feeding a ball to Campbell in a dangerous position.
The game then settled down with Palace sitting deep to snuff out City’s counter-attacking game and a Schmeichel save from Cabaye ensured a goalless scoreline at the break.

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The second half saw a hard-fought battle all over the pitch and chances were few.
Schlupp sent an effort narrowly wide, but then City pounced on an error to break the deadlock on the hour.
Hangeland’s misdirected pass out of defence fell for Mahrez, who sent Vardy through on goal.
Vardy, under pressure from a defender and with the keeper racing out to meet him, showed great presence of mind to lift the ball over Hennessey before smashing it home from close range.
A huge roar greeted this goal, partly in acknowledgement of how tough a game this was.

2015-16 palace home b

Palace, now forced onto the offensive, looked threatening for a long spell.
Schmeichel made a save from Sako and then it was all hands on deck for a while as the City keeper made a good save from Bamford and Fuchs headed Dann’s effort away from under the bar.
City weathered this late storm, aided by Ranieri whipping the crowd into a frenzy as the game entered four minutes of injury time, to claim all three points.

Jamie Vardy joined an exclusive club of players who have scored in 7 consective Premier League games, while City opened up a four point gap on sixth place.

Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson, Huth, Morgan, Fuchs, Albrighton (Okazaki 63), Kanté, Drinkwater, Schlupp, Mahrez (Dyer 79), Vardy. Subs Not Used: De Laet, King, Kramarić, Schwarzer, Inler.
Palace: Hennessey, Mariappa (Jedinak 76), Hangeland, Dann, Kelly, Cabaye, , Bolasie, McArthur, Puncheon (Zaha 68), Campbell (Bamford 57), Sako. Subs Not Used: Speroni, Mutch, Delaney, Ledley.

Referee: Mike Dean. Attendance: 31,752.

ALL PHOTOS: Simon Kimber


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Leicester losing their grip on the Premier League

Leicester City 0:1 Crystal Palace

2014-15 crystal palace home c

City lost another home game, while manager Nigel Pearson appeared to lose the plot at home to Crystal Palace on Saturday afternoon…

Pearson made five changes to the side that lost at Old Trafford with Mahrez returning from Africa, James returning from suspension, and Paul Konchesky, Nugent and Cambiasso regaining their starting places.
The visitors had the best of the opening quarter of an hour with Zaha and Puncheon looking lively, but City gradually gained the ascendancy. However, efforts on goal from Nugent, Schlupp, Morgan and Mahrez were either blocked, or comfortably fielded by Eagles keeper Speroni.
City’s best chance arrived in the 27th minute when Nugent got his head to a Mahrez corner, but struck the woodwork.
Soon after this Speroni produced a fine save to block a well-struck Schlupp half-volley from close in.

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In a tight game that neither side could afford to lose, the first goal was always going to be hugely important, and it was Palace who went ahead ten minutes into the second half. Hangeland was not closely marked enough at a corner and his far post header fell nicely for Ledley to bundle past Schwarzer from close in, to the delight of the big Palace following.

2014-15 crystal palace home a

City then wasted a golden opportunity for an instant equaliser.  Nugent latched on to a wayward Ledley back pass and rounded  Speroni before hesitating until the angle was too narrow. He squared to Cambiasso, who then tried to find Ulloa before a defender intercepted the pass.
Soon after Mahrez delivered a ball across the goal-mouth, but no one was there to apply a finishing touch.
Albrighton came on for Schlupp in the 66 minute, and sent over three good quality crosses from the right in a matter of minutes, but City had no presence in the danger area.
Puncheon went close with a long-range effort, but Palace were more interested in defending the points.
The introduction of Kramarić and Vardy livened things up a bit.  Vardy’s flick from a Mahrez’s free kick brought a save from Speroni, and there were loud appeals for a penalty when Kramarić was shoved over in the area by Kelly, but it appears that we do not get awarded penalties in this division.
City’s last chance of the game saw a fierce shot from Vardy blocked by a fine Speroni save, and a third league defeat in a row saw the threat of relegation grow yet larger.

The headlines, however, would be concentrating on a bizarre incident late in the game when McArthur was tripped and ended up colliding with Pearson in the technical area.  The following exchange seemed to veer between jokey and menacing, as Pearson wrapped his hands round the grounded players neck, before helping him up. Words were then exchanged and the fourth official had to physically intervene to loosen Pearson’s grip on the Palace player’s sleeve.

By Sunday evening Sky News was reporting that Pearson has been sacked, while other news sources claimed that he had walked.
Some four hours later Sky performed a u-turn and said he was still Leicester City manager, and then an official club statement read:

“Contrary to media speculation on Sunday evening, Nigel remains the Club’s First Team Manager. Reports to the contrary are inaccurate and without foundation. Nigel, his staff and the first team squad are entirely focused on Tuesday night’s trip to Arsenal and our continued efforts to secure our position in the Barclays Premier League.”
Still… it’s never dull, is it?

Leicester: Schwarzer, Konchesky, Morgan, James, Schlupp (Albrighton 66), Simpson (Vardy 79), Cambiasso, Ulloa, Mahrez, Wasilewski, Nugent (Kramarić 71). Subs Not Used: De Laet, Drinkwater, King, Hamer.
Palace: Speroni, Ward, Dann (Hangeland 46), Zaha, Gayle (Guedioura 78), McArthur, Mutch (Sanogo 46), Delaney, Ledley, Kelly, Puncheon. Subs Not Used: Mariappa, Campbell, Hennessey, Murray.

Referee: L Mason. Attendance: 31,695.

ALL PHOTOS: Simon Kimber.



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