Leicester City is in the win column for the first time since the Premier League came back from the coronavirus pause.
The Foxes beat Crystal Palace 3-0 on Saturday at the King Power Stadium, the club and its star striker getting out of respective and collective ruts.
Jamie Vardy had a rough day for 76 minutes but, as good strikers do, made the most of two late chances off Harvey Barnes passes after Kelechi Iheanacho broke the deadlock just after halftime.
Leicester keeps hold of third place in moving onto 58 points, while Palace’s 42 points and three-goal loss sends it behind 12th place Newcastle on goal differential.
Leicester visits Arsenal on Tuesday before running for the finish line versus Bournemouth, Sheffield United, Tottenham Hotspur, and Manchester United.
Three things we learned
1. Brendan Rodgers needed that: Leicester still may fall out of the top four but they have it all in front of them to defend the house. Part of that battle is beating the two lowest challengers on the schedule — Bournemouth and Palace — and they did that well on Saturday despite the absence of James Maddison. The other part of the equation is four top seven challengers. Can they get enough points to return to the UCL?
2. Vardy’s sleepy party still a success: Jamie Vardy did not have a great game despite getting into a number of glorious positions. He did, however, retake sole possession of first place the Golden Boot race when he scored his 20th and 21st goals of the season late at the KP (Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has 19 and plays later Saturday).
Vardy reaches the 20-goal mark for the third time in his Premier League career, the marker his 100th in the competition. Can the 33-year-old find enough magic to hold off all comers?
3. Palace prepared for vacation: Safe and deprived of European hopes by their big loss to Liverpool, Roy Hodgson’s Eagles just didn’t have much fire on Saturday. Perhaps it’s unfair to say they didn’t have the desperation of Leicester, but that’s how it looked on the pitch in Leicester.
Man of the Match
Youri Tielemans — Barnes was very good with two assists but Tielemans deserved better than his lone assist for another tidy and occasionally spectacular day in the heart of the action. He was credited with two key passes, four tackles, and the drawing of three fouls (SofaScore).
Leicester City – Crystal Palace recap
Kelechi Iheanacho couldn’t quite get on the end of an eighth-minute cross as the Foxes looked better than the visitors at the outset.
Leicester City’s James Justin saw a deflected shot pound the crossbar and fired wide with a second chance moments later.
Jamie Vardy was played into the box by Youri Tielemans’ fine pass in the 17th minute, but the Premier League Golden Boot race leader’s pass back into the mix was blocked by Mamadou Sakho.
Ayoze Perez nearly had it 1-0 when Christian Benteke did a poor job clearing a corner kick, but Sakho made a terrific block near the penalty spot.
Luka Milivojevic spun a free kick just wide of the upper 90 in the 32nd minute, Palace edging into the match.
Vardy’s difficult run of form continued with a poor first touch while turning into the box, a chance he often turns into a goal.
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Leicester went ahead through Iheanacho. Tielemans got a rightful assist when Iheanacho took advantage of a sleeping Vicente Guaita to poke the ball home in the 49th minute.
Vardy missed a glorious chance to make it 2-0 but then got the job done moments later when Sakho slipped and allowed Harvey Barnes to feed the 20-goal man on the doorstep.
Wilfried Zaha blew a chance to make it interesting late when he popped a terrific Andros Townsend cross over the frame.
Barnes slipped a delightful pass to Vardy for a trademark cutting run and finish for 3-0.Follow @NicholasMendola