Palace draw strength from Allardyce's advice

Crystal Palace striker Christian Benteke climbs over Leicester defender Yohan Benalouane in the 70th minute to head the equaliser past goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel.
Crystal Palace striker Christian Benteke climbs over Leicester defender Yohan Benalouane in the 70th minute to head the equaliser past goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Sam Allardyce has been imploring his players to "respect the point" since taking the reins at Crystal Palace back in December, and yesterday's 2-2 draw was evidence his players are taking note.

A chance of a fourth consecutive home victory may have been passed up against Leicester City, but the point salvaged by the home side from two goals down has moved them closer to safety as those below continue to stumble.

The champions, even with Tuesday's Champions League quarter-final return leg against Atletico Madrid serving as a huge distraction, had initially proved far less obliging than Arsenal had a few days ago.

Their opening goal at Selhurst Park had felt trademark in its construction, which merely added to the Palace's frustration, given that there should at this stage be few secrets when it comes to Leicester's prowess at dead-ball situations.

Yet Christian Fuchs's long throw arced into the penalty area towards Robert Huth, who eased away from Luka Milivojevic and easily outjumped Joel Ward to guide a header across the static Wayne Hennessey and into the net.

Leicester have not lost a top-flight game after scoring first this season, which did not bode well for Palace's chances of forcing a recovery.

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New Foxes manager Craig Shakespeare has restored this team to their awkward best.

Leicester's threat on the counter-attack, another of last season's fortes, was also still intact.

Seven minutes into the second half, Jamie Vardy was put through. The striker scuttled into the Palace half, tormenting former team-mate Jeffrey Schlupp before cutting inside the full-back and curling his finish into the far corner.

It was the England international's sixth goal in seven games since Claudio Ranieri's sacking.

It should have signalled the end of the contest, yet Leicester dropped their guard almost immediately.

Schlupp, anxious to make amends, snatched at a shot which deflected weakly off Danny Simpson and fell perfectly for Yohan Cabaye.

The Frenchman, alone near the penalty spot, converted his fourth goal this season.

The home side had been perked up by their goal and Andros Townsend eventually flung over a cross which Leicester could not repel, Christian Benteke leaping above Yohan Benalouane, who crumpled to the turf under the striker's body weight, to thump a header down and into the net.

There was disbelief in Leicester's ranks that the goal had been permitted to stand.

Palace, though, took some satisfaction in their point.

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 16, 2017, with the headline 'Palace draw strength from Allardyce's advice'. Print Edition | Subscribe