Battling Eagles fight back from 2-0 down to earn deserved point against Leicester
Crystal Palace 2
Leicester City 2
Crystal Palace fought back from two goals down to earn a well-deserved point against Leicester City in a pulsating encounter at Selhurst Park this afternoon.
Two goals inside six minutes in the first half from Kelechi Iheanacho and Jamie Vardy, completely against the run of play, put the visitors in command at the break.
But substitutes Michael Olise, and then Jeffrey Schlupp – who had been on the field for a matter of seconds – salvaged a point for the Eagles, which was the least their efforts deserved.
Palace were knocking it about with a degree of confidence early on. James McArthur beat two Leicester defenders before finding Wilfried Zaha, whose shot was saved by Kasper Schmeichel. The ball then fell to the bright Conor Gallagher, on loan from Chelsea, but Schmeichel was there once again to save – this time with his legs.
Although Palace had just one win and sat in 15th position going into this game, their lowly standing was, in part, due to the fact that two of their results were 3-0 reverses at Stamford Bridge and Anfield against teams who will surely be fighting for the title well into the spring of next year.
Against rivals Brighton on Monday, Palace were unlucky to lose a 95th minute goal – and with it two precious Premier League points. Against Spurs here a few weeks ago they were superb in demolishing the north Londoners 3-0.
Boss Patrick Vieira has the foundations – maybe more than that – of a good team. They are industrious in midfield with McArthur and Luka Milivojevic, and creative in the final third with Gallagher, summer signing from Celtic Odsonne Edouard and talisman Zaha.
But it is at the back where they are perhaps weakest – and that was exposed again here just after the half hour when under absolutely no pressure, Joachim Andersen was caught in possession by Iheanacho, the Leicester man finding himself clean through and able to stroke the ball past Vicente Guaita completely against the run of play.
And six minutes later the Foxes doubled their advantage through Vardy. Harvey Barnes held off a challenge in the midfield area and set the main man free, Vardy slotting home for 2-0 with his sixth goal of the season.
Hit by two sucker punches, Palace’s confidence was dented – with Jordan Ayew and even the usually reliable Zaha, who would have become the first ever Palace player to score 50 top flight goals had he registered today, subdued for the rest of the half.
And as if things couldn’t get much worse for the Palace fans, they were then hit by a deluge at half-time as the heavens opened – sending the Eagles’ faithful scattering for shelter.
Things almost did get worse just four minutes into the second half when Barnes should have settled matters. Played in by Iheanacho, he worked the ball on to his left foot, but his effort was poor, into the side netting.
But Vieira seems to have instilled a never-say-die attitude into this Palace side. They twice recovered from a losing position at the London Stadium back in August to earn a 2-2 draw with West Ham – and they were about to do something similar here.
First Zaha fired over from 20 yards as the Eagles looked to drag themselves back into the contest.
Then Edouard, the two-goal hero against Spurs recently, cracked an effort back off the bar with Schmeichel rooted to the spot.
But on the hour they were back in it. Left-back Tyrick Mitchell got to the byline and pulled back a great cross for Olise who, despite seeing his first effort blocked, made no mistake with his second to reduce the arrears.
And with less than 20 minutes to go it was 2-2. Leicester failed to deal with an Olise cross, and when it came back into the centre via Milivojevic, Schlupp nodded home the equaliser.
They could have even won it as the seconds ebbed away – Schlupp seeing a header drop just wide.
It would not have been more than they deserved.
Crystal Palace: Guaita, Ward, Mitchell, Milivojevic, Guehi, Ayew (Olise, 53), Zaha, Andersen, McArthur, Edouard (Benteke, 85), Gallagher (Schlupp, 71)
Leicester: Schmeichel, Soyuncu, Bertrand, Barnes, Tielemens, Vardy, Iheanacho (Maddison, 71), Choudhury Soumare, 60), Vestergaard, Castagne, Lookman (Albrighton, 79)
Referee: Anthony Taylor