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Report: Palace's unbeaten run ends in evenly-matched Leicester clash

Leicester City
2
Lookman 39'
Dewsbury-Hall 45'
1
Crystal Palace
Zaha 66'

Crystal Palace's seven-game unbeaten run ended in a closely-fought game with Leicester City on Sunday afternoon, in which a short spell in a quiet first-half gave the hosts a two-goal lead the south Londoners couldn't fight-back from, despite Wilfried Zaha scoring after 65 minutes.

Zaha broke his record for most goals in a single season with the effort, a headed penalty rebound, netting his 12th in all competitions for the first time.

Summary

  • Patrick Vieira names the same team that beat Arsenal 3-0 last Monday
  • The game starts fairly uneventfully – with Palace creating chances through Jean-Philippe Mateta and Joachim Andersen
  • Joel Ward makes his 300th Palace appearance when replacing Tyrick Mitchell after 34 minutes
  • Leicester take the lead through a smart Ademola Lookman goal
  • The hosts add a second through Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall
  • Half-time: Leicester City 2-0 Crystal Palace
  • Leicester come out brightly for the second-half but Palace defend assuredly
  • Vieira brings on Eberechi Eze and James McArthur after 58 minutes
  • Palace look livelier, and secure a penalty through Jordan Ayew; Zaha takes it twice and scores on the rebound - his 12th of the season
  • The south Londoners continue to threaten their hosts but the game settles down with 10 minutes to go, and Palace can’t find a leveller
  • Full-time: Leicester City 2-1 Crystal Palace

This game’s initial lack of shots on target didn’t belie a lethargic start, with both teams harrying and pressing the other well. Leicester executed this gameplan with the earliest success, keeping Palace’s backline under pressure and forcing the first effort through Ademola Lookman.

Palace responded when Jeffrey Schlupp sparked a counter-attack with a defence-splitting pass to Wilfried Zaha, however the winger’s placed shot rolled wide as both ‘keepers kept their jerseys clean throughout the first 18 minutes.

After a quiet spell of relatively safe passing, Palace turned on their attacking intent and forced Kasper Schmeichel into action. Jean-Philippe Mateta and Zaha were the key cogs in a swift counter, with the former driving forward, stepping over and launching a shot goal-bound. Schmeichel, however, was equal to it.

Shortly after, with Patrick Vieira barking instructions from his technical area, Joachim Andersen pulled the trigger for a bullet header which flew past the post from Conor Gallagher’s corner.

After half an hour Tyrick Mitchell appeared to sustain a small knock, and was soon brought off for just the second time this season, meaning Joel Ward made his 300th appearance in club colours; his first game since facing Chelsea in February.

Thirty-nine minutes in and the game still hadn’t clicked into gear, with the first-half cruising by relatively quietly. Then Leicester took the lead.

Breaking the steady rhythm of this evenly-matched half, Lookman collected the ball in the box from Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, held it for a second to create space, and fired past Vicente Guaita with power.

This advantage put momentum behind Leicester, who, six minutes later, added a second. This time Patson Daka collected the ball on the right-wing and fed Dewsbury-Hall, who went from provider to goalscorer by spinning on the edge of the box and striking in.

Half-time brought a near-identical scenario to the Leicester game at Selhurst half a year ago: the Foxes led a relatively even game through first-half goals six minutes apart, and Palace had work to do – but a clear hope of doing it successfully.

The two teams emerged for the second-half knowing the next goal would dictate the following 45 minutes of football. Perhaps unsurprisingly then Guaita was called into action within seconds of the restart, tipping a long-range Youri Tielemans effort high.

An Andersen foul on Daka 20 yards from goal gave James Maddison a prime shooting chance from a close free-kick, but the midfielder thwacked the ball and squandered his chance to put victory almost beyond doubt.

The swift hunt for a third over, Leicester changed track and opted for a less urgent style, allowing Palace to have possession and probe forward slightly more.

This, coupled with Eberechi Eze’s introduction, energised this visitors, with Eze and Ayew linking up down the middle and right-wing.

It bore success when Tielemans felled Ayew just inside the box. Zaha stepped up to strike from 12 yards and, forced to retake after Leicester encroached into the area, scored on the rebound. He hit Schmeichel in the middle of the goal but reacted fastest, rushing forwards to head in and secure his side’s first step to a fightback.

The goal and circumstances that produced it injected a touch of venom into the clash, enlivening the home crowd and setting a somewhat flat afternoon on edge.

This presented itself in a series of fast-paced Palace chances: Zaha driving along the left-wing and almost forcing the ball past Schmeichel again directly or through his teammates, who filled the box in anticipation of his service.

Brendan Rodgers made a double change in response and the game settled down for its final exchanges.

Ultimately it didn't pick up enough as the clock ticked down for Palace to finish their fightback, and the south Londoners were left to accept this would not be their day - ending a seven-game unbeaten run.

Leicester: Schmeichel, Söyüncü, Amartey, Daka (Iheanacho 76), Justin, Mendy, Tielemans, Thomas, Dewsbury-Hall, Maddison (Castagne 86), Lookman (Barnes 76).

Subs not used: Jakupovic, Vestergaard, Fofana, Albrighton, Choudhury, Pereira.

Palace: Guaita, Mitchell (Ward 34), Andersen, Guéhi, Clyne, Kouyaté (McArthur 58), Schlupp, Gallagher (Eze 58), Zaha, Ayew, Mateta.

Subs not used: Butland, Kelly, Tomkins, Milivojević, Benteke, Edouard.