Goals from Ahmed Musa, Shinji Okazaki and Christian Fuchs saw Leicester City record a 3-1 win over Crystal Palace at the King Power Stadium on Saturday as the reigning champions’ three-game winless streak in the Premier League came to an end.
Leicester were beaten 3-0 by Chelsea last week, having previously failed to beat Southampton (0-0) and Manchester United (4-1), but they returned to winning ways following a sublime strike from Musa in the closing stages of the first half and a clinical finish from Okazaki after the break.
Fuchs added gloss late on with a wonderful, long-range effort before Yohan Cabaye netted an 85th-minute consolation.
Claudio Ranieri opted to make two changes to the team that beat Copenhagen 1-0 in midweek in the Champions League, dropping Marc Albrighton and Jamie Vardy in favour of Musa and Okazaki and the Italian’s decision paid off.
Leicester made a positive start and could have gone ahead when Okazaki nearly made the most on an error from Palace goalkeeper Steve Mandanda after just 90 seconds, but the attacker’s chipped effort after the Frenchman’s poor attempted clearance went just wide of the target.
The visitors looked to hurt Leicester down the flanks as they tried to pick out striker Christian Benteke with high crosses and that tactic nearly paid off in the 12th minute. Martin Kelly sent in a superb inswinging cross from the left and Benteke beat his marker to the ball, only to see his header hit the crossbar.
Riyad Mahrez caused the Palace defence all kinds of problems down the right and the Algeria international seemed destined to open the scoring when he unleashed a shot after cutting inside that was heading towards the top corner, only for Okazaki to inadvertently divert the ball over Mandanda’s goal with his head.
It proved brief respite for Palace as Leicester took the lead in the 42nd minute through Musa. The Nigeria international started the move himself, playing in Slimani as he cut inside from the left, and, after getting the ball back in somewhat fortunate fashion, made no mistake to fire a powerful shot past the helpless Mandanda from just outside the area.
Ranieri’s men doubled their lead in the 63th minute when Okazaki added his name to the scoresheet, drilling a loose ball into the net after Damien Delaney failed to adequately clear Danny Drinkwater’s cross from the left after a quick break.
Palace refused to give up, though, and Wilfried Zaha was denied by Kasper Schmeichel shortly after, with the Denmark international again showing his class when Cabaye showed up in a dangerous position with 20 minutes left on the clock.
The visitors were made to pay for their profligacy in the 80th minute when Fuchs found the net with a superb long-range strike to seal the three points for Leicester.
Cabaye pulled one back late on with a calm finish after being set up by Zaha, but it was too little, too late for Palace.
Key Opta stats:
– Leicester City (W13 D7) are one game away from matching the longest unbeaten run on home soil in the top-flight since Chelsea’s 21 game streak which ended in August 2015.
– Christian Fuchs scored his first goal for Leicester City in all competitions it what was his 47th appearance for the club.
– Shinji Okazaki scored his first goal in 14 Premier League games, since netting against Newcastle in March.
– Crystal Palace have conceded in their last 15 Premier League away games; their longest run on the road in the Premier League without a clean sheet.
– Wilfried Zaha has been directly involved in three Premier League goals this season (one goal, two assists) – the same total he amassed last season.
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