Crystal Palace 1-0 Leicester: Luka Milivojevic stunner seals Eagles win
Report and highlights as Palace secure first league win without Wilfried Zaha in over two years
By Oliver Yew
Last Updated: 15/12/18 7:31pm
Luka Milivojevic's superb long-range strike proved to be the difference as Crystal Palace edged past Leicester City with a 1-0 victory at Selhurst Park on Saturday afternoon.
In what was a scrappy affair on a wet day in south-east London, Palace captain Milivojevic produced a moment of magic in the first half, drilling the ball past Kasper Schmeichel from 25 yards.
Palace win without Zaha
Palace enjoyed their first win in 14 Premier League games without Wilfried Zaha (L13) since beating Sunderland 3-2 on Sept 24, 2016
Leicester improved after the break, but they were denied an equaliser when Palace goalkeeper Vicente Guaita, on his Premier League debut, made a superb save to thwart Jamie Vardy.
Palace held on to take all three points and move up to 15th in the table, five points clear of the relegations zone, while Leicester drop to 11th after suffering back-to-back defeats.
With Wayne Hennessey ruled out due to back spasms, Palace turned to Guaita, who they signed from Getafe on a free transfer last summer, for his league debut and it was almost a start to forget for the Spanish 'keeper.
Crystal Palace: Guaita (8), Wan-Bissaka (6), Sakho (7), Kelly (8), Van Aanholt (6), Milivojevic (7), McArthur (7), Meyer (7), Kouyate (6), Townsend (7), Ayew (6).
Subs: Schlupp (6), Sorloth (6), Puncheon (n/a).
Leicester: Schmeichel (6), Pereira (7), Morgan (6), Maguire (7), Fuchs (6), Mendy (6), Ndidi (6), Gray (7), Maddison (5), Albrighton (6), Vardy (7).
Subs: Ghezzal (7), Iheanacho (6), Okazaki (n/a).
Man of the match: Martin Kelly
After taking a heavy touch to control Milivojevic's back pass, Guaita was caught in possession inside his own penalty area by Jamie Vardy, who rolled the ball into an empty net. However, the former England forward was judged by referee Michael Oliver to have fouled the Palace No 1.
Both teams were struggling to create anything of real significance, so when Palace took the lead in the 39th minute it was a goal that came out of the blue.
Townsend picked out Milivojevic 25 yards from goal and the Palace captain had time and space to to bend the ball beyond the dive of Schmeichel and inside the far post.
Leicester improved after the break and they were almost level in the 66th minute. Vardy's pass released Demarai Gray, who found substitute Rachid Ghezzal at the far post, but the winger's first-time shot flashed wide of the target.
Roy Hodgson made three changes from the side that lost 3-2 to West Ham last time out. Martin Kelly and Jordan Ayew replaced the suspended duo of Wilfried Zaha and James Tomkins, while Vicente Guaita came in for his Premier League debut in place of the injured Wayne Hennessey.
Claude Puel made four changes as Jamie Vardy and Harry Maguire returned to the starting XI. Marc Albrighton and Christian Fuchs also came in to replace the injured Ben Chilwell and Vicente Iborra.
Then came Guaita's big moment. Ghezzal's pass picked out fellow substitute Kelechi Iheanacho, who released Vardy clean through on goal. However, the striker's well-struck shot was brilliantly tipped on to the post by the Spaniard, who then collected the rebound after the ball bounced straight back into his hands.
Leicester had one final chance when Martin Kelly's clearance fell kindly to Wilfred Ndidi on the edge of the penalty area, but the midfielder's effort failed to trouble Guaita as Palace held on for victory.
- Palace have won consecutive home league games for the first time since their final three matches at Selhurst Park in 2017-18.
- Leicester have lost three consecutive games without scoring against an opponent in the Premier League for the first time since April 2002 (six in a row against Manchester United).
- Leicester are without a win in their last 10 Premier League visits to London (D4 L6), wince a 3-2 win against West Ham in March 2017.
- Palace have won and kept a clean sheet in each of their last three Premier League games against Leicester, doing so against a single team for the first time since April 2014 (Aston Villa).
- Since his Premier League debut in February 2017, Milivojevic has scored more goals in the competition for Crystal Palace than any other player.
Roy Hodgson: "I thought our first-half performance was really excellent against such a good team. Unfortunately we had to make a change in the second-half with Cheikhou Kouyate, who had done so well. We had to reorganise our team again - we had already had to reorganise our team a lot due to the suspensions and injuries.
"After that Leicester did very well and they got on top of us but the great thing for me to be able to state, despite them getting on top, is our back four and midfield worked so very hard and we restricted them to few chances. And then when a little bit of luck was needed, for once, it went our way. It was a vital victory and the players deserve a lot of credit for pulling it out of the bag."
Claude Puel: "Our first half an hour was not enough. For me it was a poor first half without the right intensity and the right ingredients. After we conceded a great goal but the second half was more interesting but without luck. I think we had three or four chances to score. It was a tough game. We needed to play with good fighting spirit because it was a fight and we weren't ready in the first half to play this game."
Man of the Match - Martin Kelly
Martin Kelly came in for just his fourth Premier League appearance of the season, starting in place of the suspended James Tomkins.
However, the defender produced an assured display at the heart of the Palace back line as Hodgson's side secured a much-needed victory and a clean sheet.
Alongside Mamadou Sakho, he dealt with the threat of Jamie Vardy well and was in the right place at the right time on numerous occasions when Leicester threatened.
"To be fair, Martin Kelly was excellent," Hodgson told Sky Sports. "The two centre-backs were excellent and the goalkeeper played his part as well."
Soccer Saturday pundit Charlie Nicholas says Claude Puel and Leicester need something to change following their 1-0 defeat at Crystal Palace.
Leicester are back in action on Tuesday when they take on Man City in the Carabao Cup last eight, live on Sky Sports Football (7.45pm). In the top flight, Puel's side face a trip to Chelsea next Saturday (3pm).
Palace, meanwhile, also play City next, with Hodgson's men travelling to the Etihad next Saturday to take on the champions in the Premier League (3pm).