Leicester's march to glory continues
20 March 2016, 10:16
London - Riyad Mahrez moved Leicester one step closer to pulling off the most
remarkable title success in decades with the only goal in a 1-0 victory
at Crystal Palace on Saturday.
Claudio Ranieri's side sit eight
points clear at the top of the Premier League after Algeria winger
Mahrez's 16th league goal of the season piled the pressure on Tottenham,
24 hours before the second-placed side face Bournemouth at White Hart
No matter the outcome of that clash, Leicester will head
into their remaining seven games of the season as strong favourites to
become the most unlikely champions in English football history.
time 12 months ago, Leicester were rooted at the foot of the table
following a defeat to Tottenham before embarking on a run of seven wins
in nine games to stay up.
A similar run this time around will deliver an astonishing first ever top-flight title to the unheralded Foxes.
Palace, this defeat marked the latest setback in a terrible run that
has left Alan Pardew's team without a win in 13 league games and in
danger of being dragged down towards the relegation zone.
Park has proved a testing environment for teams challenging for the
title, with Liverpool and Manchester City both suffering damaging
defeats in south London in the previous two season.
side, however, have handled everything that has come their way since
their challenge began to be taken seriously at the turn of the year.
succession of single-goal victories suggest Leicester have been forced
to work hard for points recently but equally underlined their impressive
And the way Leicester started against Palace
suggested they are not a side gripped by nerves as they approach the
final weeks of their title bid.
A powerful early run down the left
hand flank from Shinji Okazaki should have led to an opening goal for
the visitors, but Mahrez was unable to connect with his header in front
of an open goal.
But with Leicester
appearing to be sharper in every department, it was always likely to be
only a matter of time before they took the lead.
Ranieri's side looked like a team on a high, Palace looked totally
bereft of confidence despite having booked their place in the FA Cup
semi-finals with victory over Reading last week.
toiled ineffectively up front while left back Pape Souare never got to
grips with Mahrez and it was no surprise both players were replaced at
half-time as Pardew attempted to freshen up his team.
By then Leicester were one up although they should have established a more commanding first half lead.
spurned a second opportunity in the 17th minute after being sent clear
on goal by the excellent Danny Drinkwater, with the winger's effort
saved by the legs of Palace keeper Wayne Hennessey.
made no mistake with a third opportunity to finish with a cool first
time shot to give the visitors a 33rd minute lead.
summed up the difference between the two sides with Drinkwater allowed
to collect Scott Dann's headed clearance and roll the ball wide to the
unmarked Jamie Vardy.
The forward then picked out Mahrez with a
low cross and having easily pulled away from Souare, the winger drilled
the ball past Hennessey.
Okazaki had two good chances to
double the lead after the restart as Pardew's attempt to plug the gaps
in his side failed to have an immediate impact.
Palace did come
more into the game the longer the second half progressed as Leicester
began to show signs of fatigue, but Ranieri's side held firm.