Leicester continued their fine run of recent form as homegrown talent Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall played a starring role in a hard-earned win over Crystal Palace.
The Foxes started slowly at the King Power Stadium but Dewsbury-Hall carved Palace open with a superb ball for Ademola Lookman to fire home, before whipping his own finish high into the net six minutes later.
“It means so much,” he said of his first Premier League goal. “It’s a dream come true to score in the Premier League. I have dreamt it since I was a little boy. I have come close but I am so happy today.”
The 23-year-old’s moments of quality proved telling in a fixture both sides could have been forgiven for looking past given their mid-table status and with key cup fixtures in the coming week.
Palace – who missed early chances through Wilfried Zaha, Jean-Philippe Mateta and Joachim Andersen – refused to give in after the break and Youri Tielemans’ foul on Jordan Ayew in the penalty area offered them a route back into the match.
Zaha saw his penalty saved and when VAR pointed to encroachment in the area by home defender Caglar Soyuncu, his retaken penalty was also palmed away by Kasper Schmeichel, only for the Ivory Coast international to head in the rebound.
It prompted a spirited 10 minutes from Palace – who went close through a Jeffrey Schlupp flick – but their seven-game unbeaten run ends. Leicester now have four wins and a draw from their past six league games – form that lifts them to ninth in the table, one place above the beaten visitors.
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‘He typifies everything we want to be’
A closely matched game – possession was 50-50, while Leicester managed just one more shot than their visitors – was arguably to be expected given two sides enjoying very similar fortunes.
Leicester did not pick up a league win for all of January and February but have found late-season form. Palace won just once over the same period and have themselves found momentum deep in the campaign.
Throw in the fact that Leicester face a key Europa Conference League second leg against PSV Eindhoven on Wednesday while Palace have one eye on next Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea and it would be easy to see why either side might have opted to preserve energy.
And Leicester’s seven changes from their 0-0 first-leg draw with PSV appeared to cause a lack of cohesion that Palace might have exploited.
But the visitors were unable to take half-chances and Dewsbury-Hall made them pay by reversing a defence-splitting pass into Lookman’s path for the opener before patiently creating shooting space of his own for a rifled second.
The 23-year-old was certainly not coasting. He ran further than anyone else on the pitch – clocking 11.3km – and hit a higher top speed than anyone in his sprints.
“Since he’s broken into the team I felt throughout the season it was what we were missing,” Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers said of Dewsbury-Hall.
“The team was missing intensity and pressure and he has brought that. He typifies everything we want to be. He has good industry, a cultured left foot and he’s very honest.”
Palace, who have not ended a top-flight campaign higher than 10th since finishing third 1990-91, will rue a period late in the first half when they slackened off and let the Foxes in.
Dewsbury-Hall’s assist saw them opened too easily, while his goal owed much to a missed clearance by Marc Guehi in the build-up.
When they did rally, Zaha was integral to the improvement and his form will offer confidence for next week’s semi-final.
After scoring, he fought admirably to conjure an equaliser, notably when teeing up Schlupp who saw his flick blocked by a sea of Leicester bodies.
Player of the match
with an average of 7.88
Squad number22Player nameDewsbury-Hall
Squad number10Player nameMaddison
Squad number1Player nameSchmeichel
Squad number37Player nameLookman
Squad number2Player nameJustin
Squad number7Player nameBarnes
Squad number29Player nameDaka
Squad number14Player nameIheanacho
Squad number24Player nameMendy
Squad number8Player nameTielemans
Squad number4Player nameSöyüncü
Squad number27Player nameCastagne
Squad number18Player nameAmartey
Squad number33Player nameThomas
Squad number23Player nameGallagher
Squad number10Player nameEze
Squad number15Player nameSchlupp
Squad number14Player nameMateta
Squad number13Player nameGuaita
Squad number6Player nameGuéhi
Squad number8Player nameKouyaté
Squad number3Player nameMitchell
Squad number16Player nameAndersen
Squad number9Player nameJ Ayew
Squad number17Player nameClyne
Squad number11Player nameZaha
Squad number18Player nameMcArthur
Squad number2Player nameWard
- 33ThomasBooked at 67mins
- 10MaddisonSubstituted forCastagneat 89′minutes
- 37LookmanSubstituted forBarnesat 77′minutes
- 29DakaSubstituted forIheanachoat 76′minutes
- 21Ricardo Pereira
- 3MitchellBooked at 32minsSubstituted forWardat 34′minutes
- 8KouyatéSubstituted forMcArthurat 58′minutes
- 9J Ayew
- 23GallagherSubstituted forEzeat 58′minutes
- Robert Jones
Match ends, Leicester City 2, Crystal Palace 1.
Second Half ends, Leicester City 2, Crystal Palace 1.
Foul by Timothy Castagne (Leicester City).
Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Substitution, Leicester City. Timothy Castagne replaces James Maddison.
Attempt blocked. Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall (Leicester City) header from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Harvey Barnes with a cross.
Attempt missed. Jean-Philippe Mateta (Crystal Palace) right footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Joachim Andersen with a headed pass following a set piece situation.
Foul by Youri Tielemans (Leicester City).
Eberechi Eze (Crystal Palace) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Attempt blocked. James Maddison (Leicester City) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall (Leicester City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by James McArthur (Crystal Palace).
Daniel Amartey (Leicester City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Jean-Philippe Mateta (Crystal Palace).
Substitution, Leicester City. Harvey Barnes replaces Ademola Lookman.
Substitution, Leicester City. Kelechi Iheanacho replaces Patson Daka.
Foul by Ademola Lookman (Leicester City).
Jordan Ayew (Crystal Palace) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt blocked. Jeffrey Schlupp (Crystal Palace) left footed shot from the left side of the six yard box is blocked. Assisted by Wilfried Zaha.
Corner, Crystal Palace. Conceded by James Justin.
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