Crystal Palace 1-1 Leicester City: Wilfried Zaha’s opening goal canceled out by an exquisite strike from Harvey Barnes  
 (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

The match  

With both Brendan Rodgers and Roy Hodgson making wholesale changes to their starting lineups, the opening 15 minutes to the game was a tetchy affair, with neither side fully up to grips with their new surroundings.  

Leicester, however, were gifted the opportunity to open the scoring when James Tomkins committed a clumsy challenge inside the area, tripping the onrushing left-back, Luke Thomas. Referee, Graham Scott, pointed to the spot and presented Kelechi Iheanacho a chance to open his account for the season. 

The 24-year-old, who was starting ahead of regular penalty taker Jamie Vardy, hesitated on his run up to the ball, allowing Vicente Guaita to take a moment to assess his stance and claw away the spot-kick, keeping the score line level.  

Palace grew in confidence, nearly opening the scoring on the half an hour mark, when Jeffrey Schlupp drove past James Justin and clipped a tantalsing ball into the path of Andros Townsend. However, he could only direct his effort just wide of the post.  

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Iheanacho nearly redeemed himself moments later, when he peeled away from James Tomkins to meet a Dennis Praet cross from the right-hand side. But from 5-yards out, the striker could only direct his header inches wide of Guaita’s goal.  

Roy Hodgson’s side were desperate to right the wrongs from their harrowing defeats to Liverpool and Aston Villa over the festive period. The Eagles started the second half the brighter of the two sides, with Wilfried Zaha shooting just over the bar after a well worked one-two with Schlupp.  

The intense pressure finally paid off for Palace on the 58th minute. Wilfried Zaha picked up the ball on the halfway line, surrounded by a barrage of Leicester players, but he wriggled away played a delightful ball out wide to Andros Townsend.

The former England international cut inside on his left foot, whipping a cross over everyone inside the area, landing at the feet of Zaha, who was lurking at the back post. Zaha took one touch, before unleashing a venomous shot past the helpless Kasper Schmeichel, giving his side the lead with their first shot on target all afternoon.  

After having only two shots for the first period of the second half, Rodgers’ side looked to carve their way back into the game, bringing on the illustrious fire power of Jamie Vardy and Youri Tielemans for the final half an hour.  

It would take something special to beat the resolute Palace defence. With the game entering the dying embers, up stepped Harvey Barnes, who received the ball on the edge of the Palace area.

Without hesitation, Barnes danced his way through the Palace defence and drilled an exquisite low shot passed the outstretched Guaita, bringing the game to a grandstand finish with five minutes remaining.  

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Leicester were left to rue their missed first half chances, as the game fizzled out, with Palace desperate to pick up a point and end their wretched form. The point did move The Foxes up to second in table, three points behind leaders, Liverpool.  

As for Palace, they remain 13th, but keep themselves immersed in the mid-table vortex.  

Takeaways  

Iheanacho lacking confidence 

It must be a difficult job being the understudy to one of the deadliest strikers’ ever to have played in the top-flight. For Kelechi Iheanacho, he looked a shadow of his former self at Selhurst Park this afternoon. He struggled to fill the boots of the rested Jamie Vardy.  

Presented with the opportunity to open the scoring from 12-yards, the Nigerian striker stuttered in his run up and gave Guaita all the time in the world to read his body language and judge where the 24-year-old was about to place his penalty.  

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The striker was offered another chance to open his account for the season midway through the first half, but somehow missed the target with a header from 5-yards-out.

He looked short of confidence after that missed opportunity, failing to hold up the play, latch onto inch-perfect through balls and failed to trouble Palace’s back line from the remainder of his time of the pitch. He was replaced by Demarai Gray on the 65th minute.  

A festive nightmare for Palace has a light at the end of the tunnel 

It’s been a festive period to forget for Roy Hodgson’s side, having conceded ten and losing two on the bounce, since their heroic 1-1 draw with Spurs over a fortnight ago.  

The question will be posed, that if Jamie Vardy was on the pitch in the first half, then the game could have well been out of sight for the Eagles after just half an hour. But he wasn’t, and Palace stood firm to resist the pressure on their goal in the first half.  

Vicente Guaita, arguably one of the most influential pieces of Hodgson’s Palace jigsaw, was called upon several times in the first half. However, in the second, the defensive solidity which has been missing for Palace in recent fixtures was rekindled, standing firm to the onslaught of Leicester attacks.  

Although it took something miraculous from Harvey Barnes to bring the game level, the makeshift Palace defence was in fine form this afternoon. Bar his mistake for the penalty, James Tomkins was rock solid at the back, with his aerial presence having been a big miss for Palace this season.  

Another key in unlocking the defensive structure was the introduction of Tyrick Mitchell, who at only 21-years-old, added a sense of calm to a back four that had conceded 10 goals prior to today.   

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One cause for concern will be that Palace have failed to keep a clean sheet since the opening day of the season, but Hodgson will be happy to have come away with a point this afternoon to stop the rut.  

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