Yesterday at Leicester’s King Power Stadium, Roy Hodgson’s Crystal Palace put in what was undoubtedly their most complete performance under his stewardship to run out comfortable 3-0 winners.
Having come from 1-0 down in the 88th minute to beat Watford 2-1 on Tuesday night, the lads were clearly still in a buoyant mood and carried that sense of confidence on with them to sweep aside a Foxes side that, until now, have been pulling up trees under Claude Puel’s guidance.
Tasked with putting together a starting XI that didn’t include Mamadou Sakho, Luka Milivojevic or either one of his first-choice right-backs, the former England gaffer barely blinked. Rewarding James McArthur with a start in the banned Serbian’s place and throwing Martin Kelly in on the right-hand side of defence was made to look seamless throughout, as the lads took the former Premier League champions apart.
Christian Benteke, without a goal since April, opened the scoring on 19 minutes when he headed home a glorious Andros Townsend cross from a central position in the Leicester penalty area, only for our lead to be doubled in the 40th minute after some scintillating build-up play from Cabaye and the aforementioned Benteke left Zaha in on goal.
The 25-year-old, who was superb from start to finish, jinked to the outside of his covering defender on the edge of the penalty area before sweeping a powerful low shot past a helpless Schmeichel and into the bottom left-hand corner of the net.
As first halves go, it was practically perfect and the second period wasn’t much worse. Although Speroni had to get down well to his right to prevent Mahrez from halving the deficit midway through the second period, Benteke too was denied by Schmeichel at point blank range when his header was put out for a corner. Thankfully, it was the Eagles who bagged the final goal of the game too.
Breaking on Leicester in the dying moments of the contest, Zaha slid a gorgeous pass into the path of Ruben Loftus-Cheek on the left flank, before he centred it for Bakary Sako to ping an effort off the inside of the post and send the away end into yet more jubilant celebrations.
Away days seldom feel as sweet as yesterday’s. Without a goal to our name on our travels since April, watching on as three arrived at once was heavenly.