Post by Football News on Apr 15, 2017 16:20:32 GMT
C Palace 2 - 2 Leicester
Christian Benteke goal seals comeback as Crystal Palace draw with Leicester
Home team scorers Yohan Cabaye 54 Christian Benteke 70
Away team scorers Robert Huth 6 Jamie Vardy 52
Sam Allardyce has been imploring his players to “respect the point” ever since taking the reins at Crystal Palace back in December, and on this evidence his players are taking note. A chance of a fourth consecutive home victory may have been passed up against Leicester City, but the point salvaged by the home side from two goals down has edged the locals closer to safety as those below continue to stumble.
The champions, even with Tuesday’s Champions League quarter-final against Atlético Madrid serving as a huge distraction, had initially proved far less obliging than Arsenal had a few days previously. Their opening goal had felt trademark in its construction, which merely added to the home side’s frustration, given that there should at this stage be few secrets when it comes to Leicester’s prowess at dead ball situations. Yet here was Christian Fuchs’s long throw arcing into the penalty area towards Robert Huth, who eased away from Luka Milivojevic and easily outjumped Joel Ward to guide a header across the static Wayne Hennessey and into the net. Both the delivery and the finish may have been executed to perfection, but it was all far too simple, as Sam Allardyce’s expression betrayed.
City have not lost a top-flight game after scoring first this season, which did not bode well for Palace’s chances of forcing a recovery thereafter. Craig Shakespeare has restored this team to their horribly awkward best and, for all that Palace heaved in pursuit of parity, the visitors refused to wilt. Huth blocked smartly from Wilfried Zaha and Andros Townsend, while Christian Benteke drew a save from Kasper Schmeichel after collecting Ward’s centre on his chest. The Belgium forward was dominant in the air, as he had been against Arsenal, but Leicester proved far more adept at reaching the knockdowns.
Their threat on the counter-attack, another of last season’s fortes, was also still intact. Seven minutes into the second half, with the urgency all local, Townsend’s corner was cleared out of the penalty area for Riyad Mahrez, holding off Zaha, to claim and liberate Jamie Vardy. The striker scuttled into the home half, tormenting his former team-mate Jeffrey Schlupp before cutting inside the full-back and curling his finish, via Hennessey’s finger-tips, into the far corner. It was the forward’s sixth goal in seven games since Claudio Ranieri’s sacking.
It should have signalled the end of the contest, yet Leicester dropped their guard almost immediately. Schlupp, anxious to make amends, snatched at a shot which deflected weakly off Danny Simpson and fell perfectly for Yohan Cabaye, alone near the penalty spot, to convert a fourth goal of the term. The flurry of energy which followed saw Zaha first blazing into the side-netting, then fizzing a low centre across goal which Huth scrambled away before Benteke could convert. The Belgian’s moment was still to come.
The home side had been perked up by their goal and, for all that Ward guided another Fuchs throw on to the roof of his own net, their threat was growing, with Cabaye and Milivojevic increasingly influential. Townsend eventually flung over a cross which Leicester could not repel, Benteke leaping above Yohan Benalouane, who crumpled to the turf under the forward’s body weight, to thump his header down and into the net. There was disbelief in Leicester’s ranks that the goal had been permitted to stand, though Shakespeare’s was the team prompting late anxiety. Yet Danny Drinkwater’s shot was as close as they came to recovering a lead, with Palace taking some satisfaction in their point.