LONDON (REUTERS) - Crystal Palace moved five points clear of the bottom three in the Premier League when Luka Milivojevic scored to give the south London club a 1-0 win over Leicester City on Saturday (Dec 15).
Roy Hodgson’s side had suffered a nightmare spell in the top flight, winning just one of their previous 11 Premier League games, but they broke the Wilfried Zaha curse by triumphing for the first time in 14 games without their influential forward.
Leicester had the ball in the Palace net after 27 minutes but Jamie Vardy’s effort was disallowed. The former England striker made the most of a poor touch from Crystal Palace goalkeeper Vicente Guaita on his Premier League debut and slotted the ball into the back of the net but he was adjudged to have fouled the keeper.
Leicester were made to pay as Milivojevic put Palace into the lead after 39 minutes with a stunning strike.
The Serbian midfielder picked up the ball 25 metres from goal and fired a powerful shot which flew past Kasper Schmeichel into the top left-hand corner.
Another Vardy shot was kept out after 79 minutes. Kelechi Iheanacho fed the ball into the path of the Leicester forward who, from a tight angle, looked to have equalised but his effort was pushed on to the inside of the post by Guaita and back into the arms of the Palace keeper.
Palace captain Milivojevic was pleased to see his side get back on winning form, saying: “It’s very big, a massive three points for us. I think we deserved it after everything. We’ve had many games where we scored but lost in the end and thankfully we broke that today.
“Winning at home is very important because, for the fans, from last season, we took many points here in our stadium and it’s very important to have taken that back for our team and our confidence.”
Manager Hodgson told the BBC: “In the first half I thought we were very good. We lost Cheikhou Kouyate in the second half and when he had come off it handed the ascendancy to Leicester. We then had to make certain we worked hard and ground out the victory.
“We did not concede that many chances and the one we did, that I thought they would score (from), we had a stroke of fortune.”
Leicester manager Claude Puel said his side were inconsistent. “I think we did not start the game with the right intensity. We played a poor first half, it was not enough,” he told the BBC.
“We came back in the second half with a good intensity and quality. We had three or four chances to come back into the game. I think we deserved to come back but it is a big disappointment because we need the points.
“We were unlucky at the end but we lost three points. It is important to correct this and to play a consistent game from the start until the end.”