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Leicester dig deep at West Ham for first away win

West Ham United 2:3 Leicester City

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A flying start, and a grimly determined finish, delivered City’s first away win of the season at West Ham on Saturday afternoon…

Craig Shakespeare made one change for City’s first trip to the London Stadium, with Benalouane in for Morgan, who injured his back against Sevilla.
And they got off to a great start, taking a 5th minute lead. Mahrez cut in from the right a swung in a cross that flew straight into the net, with Hammers keeper Randolph distracted by Okazaki’s attempted header.
Just two minutes later, the away end was celebrating again as City doubled their lead.
From a free-kick, Mahrez fed Albrighton on the edge of the area and his lofted flick found Huth on the six yard line, the German nodding home City’s second.

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West Ham’s afternoon then got worse when Reid pulled up while running for the ball and had to be replaced by Snodgrass.
But the home side began to get into their stride and pulled a goal back in the 21st minute.
Drinkwater fouled Antonio 25 yards out for a West Ham free-kick. Lanzini got it over the wall and just inside the left hand post with an excellent strike that left Schmeichel rooted to the spot.

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As West Ham pressed for an equaliser Antonio set up Ayew for a shot, which failed to hit the target. Then Antonio had a shot deflected into Schmeichel’s arms, before Carroll had a goal ruled out by the linesman’s flag.
Ayew then headed over when well placed, before City struck again in the 39th minute.
A Mahrez corner led to a scramble in the goalmouth, then Vardy seized on the loose ball lashing it into the roof of the net.

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Although Lanzini sent a shot narrowly wide, City took a two goal cushion in at the break.

Early in the second half, Benalouane tried an ambitious free-kick from the halfway line, but didn’t catch Randolph out as he collected it under the bar.
A fine Mahrez ball then sent Vardy in on goal, but he was off balance and sent his shot wide.
The home side began to crank up the pressure again, and Schmeichel got down smartly to tip a Lanzini’s free kick round the post.
West Ham reduced City’s lead in the 63rd minute. A Lanzini corner from the left was nodded back by Carroll at the far post, and Ayew headed home from close in.
It left a long time to defend a single goal lead, but City, now looking tried after their midweek heroics, dug deep to cling on to their precious lead.
As West Ham piled on the pressure, Craig Shakespeare made a double change in the 76th minute – Musa and Slimani replacing Vardy and Okazaki.
A minute later Carroll’s far post header forced a brillaint save from Schmeichel.
Ayew then blasted over from close in, with an equaliser looking imminent. Drinkwater cleared a Kouyate effort off the line as play became frantic.
What looked like a dislocated finger for Benalouane, held up play for a while and seemed to take the impetus away from West Ham. But they still looked certain to level in the 90th minute when Carroll found himself with just Schmeichel to beat from close range.
City’s captain for the day spread himself well and blocked the shot with a fantastic save.
City weathered six minutes of time added on, to claim three points away for the first time in eleven months.

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It was an immense performance from City and Craig Shakespeare commented: “There is no secret. I think hard work, commitment and endeavour, we showed all of them today, along with some good footballers. We scored the goals at the right time today. It gave us a foothold in the game. There is no secret. The hard work is paramount to success and we have to keep doing that.” 

West Ham: Randolph, Byram, Fonte, Reid (Snodgrass 18), Cresswell (Masuaku 73), Kouyate, Obiang (Fernandes 67), Ayew, Lanzini, Antonio, Carroll. Subs Not Used: Nordtveit, Feghouli, Adrian, Collins.
Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson, Benalouane, Huth, Fuchs, Mahrez (Chilwell 87), Drinkwater, Ndidi, Albrighton, Okazaki (Musa 76), Vardy (Slimani 76). Subs Not Used: King, Amartey, Zieler, Gray.

Referee: R East. Attendance: 56,979. 

ALL PHOTOS: Simon Kimber

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Spectacular Champions League debut for Leicester in Bruges

Club Brugge 0:3 Leicester City

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City kicked off their first ever Champions League campaign in fantastic style, beating Club Brugge 3-0 on Wednesday night at the Jan Breydel Stadium.

Thousands of City fans had descended on beautiful Bruges on a burning hot afternoon, and it was a shame that so many couldn’t get into a ground that was some 9,000 under capacity for such a landmark game in the club’s history.

Claudio Ranieri made two changes to his side with Slimani making his debut in place of Okazaki, and Hernández in for the injured Simpson.
The City boss revealed: “I said to the players when you hear the Champions League music it charges the battery and makes you fight.” and this turned out to be the case, after an early scare.
In the 3rd minute Vanaken sent a ball between Huth and Morgan,to Izquierdo who was one on one with Schmeichel but sent his shot narrowly wide.
Two minutes later it was City who went ahead: Butelle came out to claim a long throw from Hernandez on the right, but Vanaken’s slight touch with his head took the keeper out of the equation and Albrighton was beautifully placed to finish from close in.
Albrighton’s face was a picture as he celebrated scoring City first ever Champions League goal.
Having had a poor start to the season this seemed to knock the Belgian champions’ confidence. City dealt fairly comfortably with their attempts to level matters, while Morgan sent a header over the bar from a corner.
The highly fortified away corner was then in raptures as City extended their lead in the 29th minute. Simons brought down Vardy twenty yards out and Mahrez stepped up to deliver a perfect free-kick that had both curve and pace to beat Butelle and find the top left hand corner.

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Brugge were struggling to cope with Vardy, and Engels became the next player to go into the book for fouling him. Drinkwater’s 30 yard free-kick was on target, but straight at Butelle.
Moments later Drinkwater had another crack, connecting well with a half cleared corner, but this time the ball went a foot over the bar.

Neither side made a change at the break but Brugge were soon forced into one when Engels suffered a dislocated shoulder after a shove from Slimani that earned him a booking.
City then put the game beyond doubt with a third goal on the hour. Vardy pounced on a defensive error and charged through on goal, only to be brought crashing down by Butelle.
The keeper was booked and Mahrez didn’t seem to have let recent spot-kick misses affect his confidence, firing home his second of the game.

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With the game won, Ranieri began to withdraw players with thoughts of Burnley on Saturday, Slimani and Vardy making way for Ulloa and Musa.
Brugge enjoyed a decent spell which saw Izquierdo, beating Hernandez and firing in a shot that beat Schmeichel but not the foot of the far post.
Huth got his head to another Hernandez long throw but his effort was too close to Butelle, before a rampaging run from Musa almost set up Mahrez.
Mahrez then made way for Gray, receiving a great ovation on his exit, after an indifferent start to the domestic season he had stepped up on the European stage.
Huth sent a header wide, and Gray fired over after a good run before the ref brought an end to Brugge’s misery.

This was City’s first win in Europe in 55 years, but Claudio Ranieri’s caution echoed that of last season: “We’ve just played the first match; there’s another five to go. We have taken confidence. But let’s stay calm. It wasn’t easy. If they’d scored early it would have changed the match.”
The fans were in dreamland however, and after the long walk back into town the party was just beginning…

Brugge: Butelle, Van Rhijn, Simons, Engels (Poulain 53), Diaby (Vossen 62), Izquierdo (Gedoz 76), Pina, Vanaken, Densweil, Vormer, De Bock. Subs Not Used: Bruzzese, Claudemir, Cools, Bolingoli.
Leicester: Schmeichel, Hernández, Huth, Morgan, Fuchs, Drinkwater, Amartey, Mahrez (Gray 81), Albrighton, Slimani (Ulloa 62), Vardy (Musa 70). Subs Not Used: Zieler, Chilwell, Wasilewski, King.

Referee: T Sidiropoulos. Attendance: 20,970. 

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The FOX Summer Special 2016 is a 44 page, all-colour celebration of football’s greatest ever story… Leicester City’s Premier League title win of 2015-16…

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Here’s what people are saying about it… (and we haven’t made it up).

* “Page after page of smiles… fantastic.”

* “Every City fan should have one – it’s just amazing – I’ve not stopped smiling – and wishing it would happen again.”

* “Hard to think of £3 better spent in my life. “

* “It is a thing of beauty. “

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* “It’s the best issue ever – and I’ve been buying it for 25 years. Awesome stuff!”

* “Just got in and reading it, blubbing at your comment in the editorial about how your perception of life has altered, spot on. And the bit in 50 Something where it shows the framed photo of his Dad, max emosh, well played sirs.”

* “Summer Special is superb! Got something in my bloody eye again!!”

* “It will go in my souvenir box file, along with the Champions clapper, Vardy salted crisps and all the other gubbins that will forever convey a touch of immortality.”

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Either subscribe to The FOX for the 2016-17 season HERE. (UK price)

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FOX 199 – The Leicester City fanzine – on sale today

The FOX 199 – the May edition – will be on sale before today’s game…

The final issue of the title-winning season will be available before today’s Coronation game v Everton.

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Featuring: an interview with former City manager, and still a Leicester fan, Micky Adams; An Editorial struggling to accept what has just happened; Fully Programmed from October 2008; Fox Diary – the incredible Premier League adventure continues; the latest from the Foxes Trust; What’s happening on #lcfc Twitter including the PFA awards; Rewind goes back to April 2008; Foxed in the Head – on statues and returning the ball to your heroes; Ian Davidson on 51 years wait for the title; John Hutchinson continues his series on City and World War II; our new series The History of Leicester City in 100 Objects continues; your letters and Bentley’s Roof; Parting Shots our favourite photos of the last month…

all for less than the price of a pint.

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Fox Subscriptions for 2016/17 now open…

If you want every issue of The FOX – The Leicester City fanzine posted out to you on publication day next season wherever you are in the world, then take out a subscription – available from today. 

You can either print out and post the form below with a cheque, or pay online via Paypal.

UK Subs – £16.95- CLICK HERE.

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Leicester edge towards title with Old Trafford point

Manchester United 1:1 Leicester City

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City overcame a stuttering start to earn a hard-fought point against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday…

Claudio Ranieri stuck with the starting XI that beat Swansea so convincingly, but they got off to a nervy start in their quest for a victory that would seal the league title.
City couldn’t get any possession and it was one-way traffic towards Schmeichel’s goal. Rashford had a shot blocked by Huth, before the Red Devils took an 8th minute lead.
Valencia delivered a precise ball from the right that found Martial in space at the far post and his crisply struck low finish went under Schmeichel.
Five minutes later Schmeichel prevented this early setback from becoming a disaster: Fellaini teed up Lingard for a well-struck, low shot which the City keeper did well to get a hand to.
City rallied after this, and delighted their 3,000 strong (plus hundreds in the home areas) following with a 17th minute equaliser.
Drinkwater delivered a free-kick from the right, and Morgan evaded the scrum on the six yard line to nod home past De Gea.

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It was a more even encounter now, with play flying from end to end.
Rooney dragged a shot wide, Schlupp had an effort blocked by Valencia, and then Lingard and Simpson had a race to goal, but pulled each other over before Schmeichel slid in to hoof the ball clear.
City ended the half on top, with De Gea beating away Schlupp’s cross, loud penalty appeals when Rojo crashed into Mahrez, Drinkwater and Morgan both going close and 1-1 at the break was a fair reflection of the game.

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One goal could win City their first ever title, and they pressed forward.
Morgan sent a header straight at De Gea, and the energetic Okazaki sent one shot wide and saw another cleared off the line by Martial.
Lingard failed to test Schmeichel with a curling effort, while Ulloa sent a header narrowly over.
There followed a rash of yellow cards, which were to damage City more than United later on, Lingard, Carrick, Rooney and Drinkwater all being booked.
Okazaki overhead shot, on target before it was blocked, was his last action of the game as he was replaced by Gray.
A moment of Mahrez magic then saw him glide past Rojo and Carrick before sending his shot just too close to De Gea.
With Albrighton on for Schlupp for the closing stages City continued to look for the goal that would win the title. Ulloa look very tired as he chested and volleyed an effort at De Gea, he didn’t have any support in the attack as Rooney had pulled Gray over, but the United skipper escaped a second yellow.
Unfortunately Drinkwater wasn’t so lucky in the 87th minute, picking up a harsh second yellow for a very weak challenge on Depay. Fortunately, referee Michael Oliver awarded a free-kick when what little offence there was occurred on the line.

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Schmeichel got a fist to Rooney’s free-kick and the ten men continued to battle.
In four minutes of time-added-on there was only one truly scary moment – Martial, down the right, was tackled by Fuchs but the ball rolled across the penalty area… the alert Schmeichel beat Mata to it by inches.
City held out until the final whistle, the hard-earned point now reducing Spurs’ margin for error to zero.
Claudio Ranieri revealed that he might not be in the country of the big moment arrives on Monday…  “I’d like to watch the match tomorrow, but I think I’m on a flight back from Italy so it’s difficult for me to watch the match. Maybe I’ll find out when I land.
For us, it was important to show our character, our mentality. The beginning wasn’t good, but after I very appreciate our performance. We suffer all the matches because we know what we are. We know every match we have to work hard.”
That hard work could be rewarded in the most monumental way tonight, depending on the outcome of a game in West London…

United: De Gea, Rojo, Smalling, Blind, Valencia, Carrick, Fellaini (Herrera 75), Lingard (Mata 61), Rashford (Memphis 82), Rooney, Martial. Subs Not Used: Romero, Schneiderlin, Darmian, Fosu-Mensah.
Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson, Morgan, Huth, Fuchs, Kante, Drinkwater, Schlupp (Albrighton 77), Mahrez (King 88), Okazaki (Gray 67), Ulloa. Subs Not Used: Schwarzer, Wasilewski, Chilwell, Amartey.

Referee: M Oliver. Attendance: 75,275.

 

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Fox Subscriptions for 2016/17 now open…

If you want every issue of The FOX – The Leicester City fanzine posted out to you on publication day next season wherever you are in the world, then take out a subscription – available from today. 

You can either print out and post the form below with a cheque, or pay online via Paypal.

UK Subs – £16.95- CLICK HERE.

Europe Subs – £27.00 – CLICK HERE

Rest of the World – £33.00 – CLICK HERE

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Foxes devour Swans to go 8 points clear

Leicester City 4:0 Swansea City

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City took a step closer to the title with a convincing 4-0 victory over Swansea at the KPS on Sunday to go eight points clear at the top of the Premier League with just three games to play…

With Vardy suspended, Claudio Ranieri played Ulloa and Okazaki up front , with Schlupp in for Albrighton.
Although Swansea were the first to deliver a ball into the box, it came to nothing, and City were then gifted an 11th minute lead.
Williams’ slightly leisurely clearance struck Mahrez and the Algerian international showed great composure to finish, with Fabianski perhaps expecting a curling effort into the far corner, Mahrez simply fired it in at the near post.
It was the start City needed to calm any nerves, and they never looked back.
With City’s midfield bossing the play, Fuchs and Okazaki both threatened the Swans goal, before City extended their lead on the half hour.
After a battle between Morgan and Routledge out on the left ended with a free-kick to City, Drinkwater delivered a perfect ball into the area for Ulloa to nod home from 6 yards.

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It was tempting to think ‘game over’ at this stage, but Swansea enjoyed their best spell of the game up to half-time.
But of the two free-kicks their pressure gained, one was headed narrowly over by Fernandez and the other, a shot from Sigurdsson, may have been heading for the post when Schmiechel tipped it round. And so City took a precious 2-0 lead in with them at the break.

Swansea had an early chance in the second half when a well-placed Ayew failed to test Schmeichel with a weak header, but it was all over by the hour mark.
Schlupp charged after a Schmeichel clearance down the left, beating two defenders and cutting in on goal. He unselfishly attempted to square to Ulloa, but Williams blocked. However, the ball fell nicely for Schlupp to cross again and Ulloa slid the ball in at the far post, sparking huge celebrations.

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Barring an Ayew header into the side-netting, it was one-way traffic now, with City in irresistible form.
Schlupp forced a fine save from Fabianski and miscued a couple of other efforts.
Okazaki fired a shot over the bar, and then King (on for Ulloa who picked up a knock to his back) tested Fabianski again with a low shot.
City’s fourth goal arrived with five minutes remaining. Gray went on a run down the right, and just kept running. At one point it was almost comedic with four Swansea defenders chasing after him. After cutting in, the youngster chipped a ball to the far, post, King headed it back across goal, but Gray’s first time effort was pushed out by Fabianski… only as far as Albrighton who gleefully rifled it home, having only been on the pitch for three minutes.

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City ended the day eight points clear, knowing that two more wins would seal the club’s first ever title. With every week bringing a new landmark, they now can’t finish outside the top two and, later that evening, Riyad Mahrez was crowned PFA Player of the Season.

Speculation about how City would cope without Vardy had been answered with four goals:
“It was a magnificent performance,” said Claudio. “Without Jamie, everyone else had to give that bit more. It was great to see my players fight. We had some difficulties, but everybody made sure we had a good match. Now it is important for us to make our dreams a reality. Now is the right moment to give everything.”

* Credit where it is due: maybe it was the light and shade effect but referee Mark Clattenburg appeared to come up with the perfect refereeing performance.

Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson, Huth, Morgan, Fuchs, Drinkwater, Kanté, Schlupp (Albrighton 82), Mahrez, Okazaki (Gray 73), Ulloa (King 79). Subs Not Used: Schwarzer, Wasilewski, Chilwell, Amartey.
Swansea: Fabianski, Taylor, Williams, Rangel, Fernandez, Britton, Cork, Fer (Paloschi 46), Routledge (Montero 46), Ayew, Sigurdsson (Ki 75). Subs Not Used: Amat, Nordfeldt, Naughton, Barrow.

Referee: M Clattenburg. Attendance: 31,962.

ALL PHOTOS: Simon Kimber.

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Vardy double moves Leicester a step closer

Sunderland 0:2 Leicester City

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Jamie Vardy’s 20th and 21st Premier League goals of the season saw City seal victory late on at Sunderland on Saturday, temporarily extending their lead to 10 points…

Claudio Ranieri, newly crowned Manager of the Month for March, named an unchanged starting line-up against a Sunderland side desperately in need of the points.
And City enjoyed a good opening spell, with Okazaki, Kanté and Morgan all threatening Mannone’s goal. Morgan looked to have repeated last week’s goal, but sent his header inches wide of the far post.
A series of misplaced passes then allowed Sunderland back in and got the home crowd fired up, but City were looking solid at the back, and in no mood to concede a first goal in over a month.
There were loud penalty appeals when Okazaki was brought down by a chest-high Yedlin boot, but the ref waved play on, and then Drinkwater fired a volley wide soon after.
Kaboul sent a header inches over the bar for the home side, while Vardy miscued a shot from the edge of the area.
Mahrez, who’d had a subdued half, then made room for himself on the edge of the area, but his attempted curler into the top corner was blocked.
Sunderland had the final chance of the half when Schmeichel did well to block a Borini shot that took a deflection off Morgan.

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Sunderland’s desperation was showing in their finishing, with several shots flying high and wide and Borini actually managing to hit one shot into his own face.
Drinkwater forced a couple of saves from Mannone as he pushed forward, and was then the architect of City’s priceless opening goal.
In the 67th minute the England midfielder won a challenge and then sent a perfect ball behind the Sunderland defence. Vardy won the race down the left with Kaboul, took a neat touch and placed a fine finish past Mannone.
Vardy became the first City player since Gary Lineker in the 1984-85 season to score 20 goals in the top flight.

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Although there was a scare when Rodwell sent a shot over from close in following a good Sunderland move, it was Mannone who was the busier keeper.
He saved from substitute Ulloa’s angled drive and then managed to get a hand to a low Vardy shot after a fantastic passing sequence down the right.
The Sunderland keeper then prevented another sub strike, beating away  Amartey’s fierce effort in time-added-on.
But it was Vardy who would have the final say when he found the energy for one more run down the middle when all around him were flagging. He got to the ball just ahead of Mannone, took it round him and stroked the ball into an empty net to dispel the tension in the away and end and get the party started.

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Another difficult hurdle had been cleared, and until Spurs win over Manchester United City stood 10 points clear. Claudio Ranieri left the field in tears, perhaps betraying his emotions for the first time, while the Leicester support staged another: “We’re going to win the League!” sing-in, long after the rest of the ground had emptied.

Ranieri was still sticking rightly to his focus on the next game mantra, but had an emotional afternoon: “It is fantastic when you see before the match, an old lady with a Leicester shirt outside the stadium. I say: ‘Unbelievable. They come from Leicester to support us.’ This is my emotion. It is fantastic. I was on the bus. I saw them, unbelievable, and I want to say thank you for the support. They are dreaming and we want to continue to dream.”

Manchester United’s defeat at Spurs later in the day may have kept Tottenham in the title race, but also confirmed City’s Champions League place next season… unbelievable, Jeff.

Sunderland: Mannone, Van Aanholt, Kaboul, Yedlin, Kone, Kirchoff, Cattermole, M’Vila (Rodwell 68), Khazri (N’Doye 68), Borini (Lens 76), Defoe. Subs Not Used: Pickford, Hones, Larsson, O’Shea.
Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson, Morgan, Huth, Fuchs, Kanté, Drinkwater, Albrighton (Amartey 84), Mahrez (Gray 80), Okazaki (Ulloa 62), Vardy. Subs Not Used: Schwarzer, Chilwell, Dyer, King.

Referee: Anthony Taylor. Attendance: 46,531.

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Mahrez winner at Palace keeps the dream alive

Crystal Palace 0:1 Leicester City

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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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