Palace recovers to hold Leicester 2-2 and boost survival bid

  • Palace recovers to hold Leicester 2-2 and boost survival bid

Palace recovers to hold Leicester 2-2 and boost survival bid

It was 2-0 to Leicester in the 52nd minute as Palace were given a mountain to climb, Jamie Vardy combining well with Riyad Mahrez to curl an effort past goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey.

Allardyce's men refused to throw in the towel, though, and Cabaye promptly hit back, firing a low shot past the helpless Schmeichel after Jeffrey Schlupp's low cross from the left. There is a conflict of interest between those two positions and, while it has been pretty clear in recent weeks that Jose Mourinho is looking more towards the Europa League, it is not easy for such a big club to be prepared to give up points at home to Chelsea in pursuit of that ambition.

The hard-fought point takes Palace to 35 points and helps edge them closer to manager Sam Allardyce's target of 38 for safety with six games left to play.

That is going to make a number of matches hard to assess and punters may wonder about the motivation of Watford at home to Swansea City and West Brom when they host Liverpool on Sunday night. But Europe is the priority, with Craig Shakespeare's side only trailing 1-0 to Atletico heading into the second leg at the King Power Stadium.

Surprise of the matchThat Palace had it in them to respond from going two goals down.

But, in many ways, playing an untypically strong team before a crucial European tie was a typically Leicester thing to do - confounding expectations and playing with nerveless verve and spirit - all things oddly lacking this season under Ranieri.

Crystal Palace Possible XI: Hennessey, Ward, Kelly, Sakho, Schlupp, Cabaye, Milivojevic, Puncheon, Zaha, Benteke, Townsend.

With Huth in fine form, that tactic would have been futile but for Benteke, whose physical presence finally won out.

Leicester were livid - Vardy claiming Benteke had used his team-mate "like a stepladder" - but could not claim to be surprised, with Benteke having threatened all game.

The fact that Palace, infinitely more confident than they were several months ago, fought back to secure a 2-2 draw may well have something to do with Leicester minds being on their Champions League match.

Crystal Palace boss Sam Allardyce: "The point feels like a win". It was a tremendous fightback from the players and that would not have happened when I first arrived. It kept our run going, showing just how good we are at the moment.

"I didn't think he needed to apologise", said Shakespeare, who was first-team coach for Allardyce's one game in charge against Slovakia. The lads have rushed in and seen all the others below us so it's another point away from the bottom three.

"We are going to give him every opportunity", interim manager Craig Shakespeare said, agreeing that Huth was vast and that the German's influence accentuates the need to get Morgan back.

- Christian Benteke has scored 21 Premier League headed goals since his top-flight debut in September 2012; only Olivier Giroud (24) has scored more.

Jamie Vardy has scored five goals in his last six league appearances.