Jamie Vardy continued his red-hot streak in front of goal by firing the winner as Leicester claimed a 1-0 victory over fellow high-flyers Crystal Palace at the King Power Stadium.
In the build-up to the match Palace manager Alan Pardew spoke of his admiration for Vardy, who like himself reached the top flight relatively late in his career after progressing through non-league football.
By his recent standards it was a relatively quiet afternoon for the busy striker but there was much to admire about the finish from Vardy that won the contest. However, Pardew would have found little to like about his team’s defending which presented him with the chance to score his 10th goal of the season.
In reaching double figures for the season, Vardy found the back of the net for the seventh successive Barclays Premier League fixture, adding his name to an elite group which includes Ruud van Nistelrooy, Daniel Sturridge, Mark Stein, Ian Wright, Alan Shearer, Thierry Henry and Emmanuel Adebayor.
While manager Claudio Ranieri will be delighted for his fifth-placed side, a first clean sheet of the season – at the 12th time of asking – will please the Italian most.
Given the attacking talent on display in both teams, the first half was surprisingly low on action.
Leicester went close after seven minutes. Marc Albrighton cut inside from wide on the right and hit a shot with his left foot. It was a tame effort but the way Wayne Hennessey casually left it had you believe it was well off target – it was not.
The ball struck the inside of a post, much to the goalkeeper’s relief, and Riyad Mahrez put the rebound wide as Jeffrey Schlupp lurked at the far post.
Palace threatened for the first time in the 19th minute as Robert Huth made a vital interception to prevent Bakary Sako from laying on a tap in for Fraizer Campbell inside the six-yard box.
Another timely tackle from N’Golo Kante shortly before half-time snuffed out a dangerous-looking counter-attack from Palace which was led by Campbell.
Vardy struck the decisive blow in the 59th minute. After a loose defensive header, Brede Hangeland then mis-hit a clearance straight to Mahrez, who sent Vardy racing through on goal for a lovely lofted finish over Hennessey.
The England striker had to make sure the ball reached the net, blasting it home from inside the six-yard box.
Kasper Schmeichel preserved Leicester’s lead with a superb reaction save with 12 minutes remaining to keep out a header from substitute Patrick Bamford.
Home hearts were in their mouths in the final minute when another Palace sub Wilfried Zaha went down inside the penalty area but referee Mike Dean booked the winger for diving.
Leicester had to survive some late Palace pressure but a first clean sheet of the campaign in the week he celebrated his 64th birthday was a welcome present for Ranieri.
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