A sensational strike by Luka Milivojevic sealed successive home wins for Palace for the first time this season as Roy Hodgson’s team claimed victory against Leicester City with a dogged display.
The Eagles skipper fired in from long range six minutes before the break to ultimately hand his team the crucial three points, however Premier League debutant Vicente Guaita would also play a crucial role in securing the win when he produced an excellent reaction save to deny Jamie Vardy from netting what seemed to be a sure-fire equaliser.
An encounter where defensive resoluteness reigned supreme for both teams and goalscoring opportunities at a premium, the win also marked the first time the Eagles had won without Wilfried Zaha since September 2016 due to the Ivorian international’s suspension.
Making his first league start due to Wayne Hennessey’s back injury, Guaita remained untroubled for the first 28 minutes as both teams struggled to create anything in wet conditions, however the Spanish shot-stopper was given a scare when he miscontrolled a backpass and Jamie Vardy pounced to win the ball and pop it into the unguarded net, however the Foxes striker was penalised for a foul on relieved goalkeeper.
Guaita was called into more routine action to stop the former England attacker’s header soon after, but on 39 minutes the Eagles finally managed to spark the game and the crowd out of their slumber when a wonderstrike handed them the lead.
Some patient build-up play involving Andros Townsend and Aaron Wan-Bissaka on the edge of the box couldn’t manipulate a breakthrough, so when the ball came to Milivojevic in oceans of space the captain decided to try his luck from 30 yards, and produced a brilliant attempt that arced away from Kasper Schmeichel’s dive and nestled inside the net to register his fourth of the campaign in style.
That helped lift the encounter out of its slumber, and not long after a Max Meyer shot skidded along the damp turf just past the upright as Hodgson’s team ended an even half on top.
City showed a bit more threat at the start of the second 45 and after Demarai Gray sliced high and wide, he embarked on a run from the halfway line to the Eagles’ box where he was held up by Mamadou Sakho but still managed to scuff the ball off target, but Palace could have netted a second when Jordan Ayew saw a shot blocked by a sea of Leicester legs on a counter-attack.
Just as the one-goal lead had been against Burnley a fortnight earlier, there was a nervy atmosphere around Selhurst as Palace looked to maintain their slim advantage and hearts were in mouths when the well-placed Rachid Ghezzal fired wide when picked out at the back post by Gray, but with 11 minutes to go Guaita kept his team in front with a superb save.
A neat passing move saw Ghezzal find Kalechi Iheanacho on the edge of the box who nudged the ball into Vardy’s path, and the hitman stabbed towards the bottom corner but the Eagles keeper showed marvellous reactions to get down low and tip the effort onto the post, and received the slice of luck his stop deserved when the rebound trickled back into his thankful grasp.
With the lead in their grasp, Palace retreated in the final stages to try and keep Leicester at bay and Wilfred Ndidi blazed over the top during some more late pressure, but the Eagles held firm to record their third-straight win over the Foxes and kick off their festive fixture list in the perfect fashion.
Palace: Guaita, Wan-Bissaka, Kelly, Sakho, Van Aanholt, Meyer (Puncheon 90), Kouyaté (Schlupp 65), Milivojevic, McArthur, Townsend, Ayew (Sørloth 77). Subs not used: Speroni, Ward, Dann, Wickham.
Leicester: Schmeichel, Pereira, Morgan, Maguire, Fuchs, Albrighton (Okazaki 88), Ndidi, Mendy, Gray (Iheanacho 73), Maddison (Ghezzal 45), Vardy. Subs not used: Ward, Simpson, Evans, Iborra.