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Match Report: Crystal Palace 2 - 1 Leicester City

Foxes fall at the death because life is stupid and pointless and full of nothing but pain.

Crystal Palace v Leicester City - Premier League Photo by Paul Harding/Getty Images

Leicester City lost to Crystal Palace by a score of 2-1 at Selhurst Park on Saturday. The City defence withstood a flood of pressure to keep things goalless at the break. Substitute Ricardo Pereira opened the scoring in the second period, only to see Palace equalise almost immediately with what was ruled a Daniel Iversen own goal. The winner came deep in injury time as Jean-Philippe Mateta slotted home with the last kick of the match.

Bad news, Ian...

The Foxes came through the international break not only unscathed but a little healthier than before as Victor Kristiansen was fit enough to return to the starting lineup: Daniel Iversen, Timothy Castagne, Harry Souttar, Wout Faes, Kristiansen, Wilfred Ndidi, Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, Tete, James Maddison(C), Harvey Barnes, Patson Daka.

Palace made themselves very poor hosts right from the opening whistle, refusing to allow their guests so much as a sniff of the ball. Souttar was forced to make an important block in the first few seconds, and it seemed as though the entire back line were called into similar duty before a Cheick Doukoure shot found its way through traffic, forcing a smart save from Iversen.

Very much against the run of play, the Foxes nearly scored on their first foray into the Palace half. Daka laid the ball off for Tete, whose return ball was deflected wide to Barnes. The winger played a spectacular reverse ball to Kristiansen. The Dane’s looping cross evaded Dewsbury-Hall at the far post but came off the bar and somehow didn’t drop over the line.

It remained an all-Palace affair as the hosts took 14 shots in the opening 28 minutes. The technical term for that rate is “a lot.” The only thing that seemed to slow them down was some pointless fouling by the Foxes and, right before injury time, Wilfried Zaha going down with an apparent groin injury. As for the Leicester attack...what attack?

Stats courtesy of Super-professional highlighting by yours truly.

To say that City were fortunate to be level at the half would be so accurate that I can’t even make a joke about it. We seldom had the ball and, when we did find it at our feet, we seemed eager to return it as soon as possible. Surely the second half will be better (he says, knowing full well he’s tempting fate by doing so).

Manager Brendan Rodgers made a defensive change at the half, withdrawing Tete in favour of Ricardo Pereira in what might be described as an unlikely like-for-like. City started strongly, winning their first corner of the match in the first minute. Leicester had their first (intentional) shot just minutes later when KDH found Madders at the far post. The captain tried a flick off the outside of his boot that had Palace keeper Vicente Guaita scrambling but he ultimately made the stop.

Leicester took the lead on 55’ in a fashion that would have been unthinkable in the first half. A brilliant cross-field ball from Ndidi found Castagne in stride and in space on the right. He laid the ball back for Ricardo on the right side. The Portuguese defender took one touch and then blasted the ball across the keeper and into the roof of the net.

Crystal Palace v Leicester City - Premier League
Remember what “hope” looked like?
xc cPhoto by Vince Mignott/MB Media/Getty Images

The Eagles had an immediate answer. Eberechi Eze was very clever to win a free kick off of Daka on the edge of the Leicester area. He lined up the free kick himself, doing very well to get it over the well, off of Iversen’s fingertips, off the crossbar, and over the line. How would Brendan respond?

Crystal Palace v Leicester City - Premier League
Ah, “despair”...that’s more like it.
Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

The gaffer hauled off Kristiansen, just back from injury and on a yellow, and introduced Luke Thomas into the fray. Things were getting scrappy now. A long ball towards Madders saw the ball run to Guaita after Tyrick Mitchell elbowed the former Norwich man into the dirt and then rolled over Madders’ head, leaving the City captain deeply unimpressed.

Rodgers, now out of fullbacks to use, sent Kelechi Iheanacho on for Daka as the Seniorman is an Agent of Chaos™. Souttar got away with one, taking Odsonne Edouard’s ankle when the former Celtic man was trying to turn him in the box. Yellow cards were flying at this point, so it’s a little surprising (and very fortunate) that Souttar avoided a second one there.

Palace found their winner out of absolutely nowhere with the last touch of the match. Jordan Ayew was well-marshalled near the centre-off the park, but he picked out an inch-perfect pass to split Faes and Souttar, finding Jean-Philippe Mateta on the edge of the area. His first touch was perfect, taking out the defenders and his shot gave Iversen no chance.

On balance, Palace were by far the better side and xG is going to say they deserved the win. We took the lead with 35 minutes to play and wound up losing on the final kick of the match. That’s the story. Just absolutely gutting. It’s not quite Troy Deeney-level of pain, but it’s still absolutely brutal for us City supporters.

Thanks for backing me up, xG Philosophy.

In spite of the first Palace goal being called an own goal, it was a fine performance from Iversen. He kept us in the match in the first half and there wasn’t really anything he could do about either goal. This is important because we’re going to need an in-form keeper for what lies ahead.

What lies ahead is an all-hands-on-deck fight to stay in the top flight. The defeat leaves us with 25 points from 28 matches and 18th on the table. 18th is a very bad number. From here on out, it’s all about points. There is no solace in a good performance without reward, and there is no shame in the most shameless smash-and-grab. We face Aston Villa at the King Power on Tuesday, and then host Bournemouth one week from today in what is annoyingly but accurately referred to as a “true six-pointer.”