Benteke heads Palace closer to safety
Christian Benteke’s 14th goal of the season completed Crystal Palace’s two-goal comeback to secure a point in a 2-2 home draw with Leicester City in the Premier League on Saturday.
Leicester –- who face Atletico Madrid in the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final on Tuesday –- took an early lead through Robert Huth with Jamie Vardy adding a second early in the second half at Selhurst Park.
But Yohan Cabaye kick-started the home side’s comeback with his second goal in two games before Benteke salvaged the point that moved Sam Allardyce’s side seven points clear of the bottom three.
Craig Shakespeare understandably had one eye on Tuesday’s meeting with the La Liga side but the Leicester manager resisted the temptation to make wholesale changes to the team that suffered a narrow 1-0 defeat in the first leg in Spain.
Allardyce has attributed his side’s recent run of results to much improved defensive displays but would not have been happy when Palace fell behind to a routine long-throw routine after just six minutes.
Leicester left-back Christian Fuchs directed his throw from the left wing into the heart of the Palace area where Huth rose above Joel Ward to direct his header past keeper Wayne Hennessey from six yards.
The signs were not good for Palace with Leicester coming into the game backed by a record of having won every game they have scored first in, a record unmatched by any other Premier League side.
But they should have drawn level in the 17th minute when Benteke was allowed to bring down a deep cross from Ward on his chest after pulling away from Danny Simpson.
The Belgian international was denied, however, when Kasper Schmeichel raced off his line to close down the angle and the striker saw his close-range shot deflect to safety off the legs of the Leicester keeper.
Yet for all their territorial advantage Palace struggled to make a significant impression on a Leicester defence who eased through the rest of the first half largely untroubled.
The visitors had offered few signs of adding to the score but the start of the first half mirrored that of the first and Shakespeare’s side doubled their lead after once again making the most of a Palace defensive lapse.
The threat appeared to lie at the other end of the pitch when Palace winger Andros Townsend swung in a corner, but a headed clearance landed at the feet of Riyad Mahrez, who set Vardy free deep into the Palace half with a long ball.
Then, after working his way into the box, the Leicester striker cut inside and placed a left-footed shot wide of Hennessey that the keeper could only parry into the net.
Palace struck back impressively and were back in the game inside two minutes.
A right wing cross was allowed to drift through the Leicester box to former Foxes player Jeff Schlupp, whose deflected shot fell at the feet of Cabaye and the France international made no mistake with a left-foot finish.
The game had fired into life and the home side worked their way back onto level terms in the 70th minute when Benteke climbed above Yohan Benalouane to head home Townsend’s cross.
No comments yet