Iheanacho strike sees Leicester down Palace to strengthen top-four hopes

Date published: Monday 26th April 2021 9:58 - Neil Foster

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Goals from Timothy Castagne and Kelechi Iheanacho gave Leicester a vital 2-1 victory over a Crystal Palace side that showed plenty of courage.

Castagne struck early in the second half after Wilfried Zaha had given Palace a half-time lead. But Iheanacho earned the Foxes all three points on 80 minutes with a superb strike.

In a bright start to the game Jamie Vardy almost celebrated his 350th career appearance with an early goal. In just the third minute Iheanacho’s superb through ball found the striker.

But Palace keeper Vicente Guaita managed to force him wide enough to prevent a shot. The visitors began to find their feet and were rewarded in the 12th minute as Zaha gave them the lead.

Christian Benteke robbed Youri Tielemans of the ball on the halfway line and fed Eberechi Eze. He raced forward before finding Zaha, who swept the ball past Kasper Schmeichel.

The Eagles continued to show attacking intent but had to defend a free-kick on 19 minutes. However, Tielemans’ effort was easily dealt with by Guaita.

The Foxes began to dominate possession but Roy Hodgson’s defence held firm. And Palace tried to counterattack whenever possible.

For all their possession, Leicester had just one shot on target in the first half. But that all changed just five minutes after the interval.

Castagne shows his class

The excellent Tielemans found Iheanacho with a ball over the top. The Nigerian outmuscled Cheikhou Kouyate and teed up Timothy Castagne, who fired home into the top corner. VAR checked for handball but the goal stood.

Brendan Rodgers’ men continued to press but nearly paid the price on 55 minutes.  Jairo Riedewald burst through from midfield but delayed his shot before squaring to Benteke.

But the poor pass allowed Jonny Evans to make a well-timed tackle and save the day. On 64 minutes Vardy’s pace took him past Kouyate but Guaita was equal to his shot from a narrow angle.

The Foxes goal did not appear to faze Palace who should have been 2-1 up on 68 minutes. Benteke was too strong for Castagne in the box and had a free header just eight yards out.

However, his effort flew straight at Schmeichel when a yard either side would have seen the net ripple. A minute later Vardy had the ball in the net but was correctly flagged for offside.

The hosts continued to push forward searching for a winner. And it nearly came on 78 minutes as Vardy fired agonisingly wide after an excellent one-two with Iheanacho.

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But the pressure eventually told as Iheanacho bagged the winner on 80 minutes. Evans found the African hitman, who controlled it well, cut inside and unleashed a rasping shot into the roof of the net. It was his 14th goal in 14 games.

Ayoze Perez should have made it three at the death but was denied by Guaita’s legs.

Leicester were worthy winners but Palace played their part and refused to be put on the back foot.

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