Leicester City moved closer to securing Champions League qualification as they came from behind to beat Crystal Palace 2-1 in a game that required them to show character.

Ivorian Wilfried Zaha put the visitors ahead after just 12 minutes, with a first-time finish following a fine through ball from Eberechi Eze who might choose to represent Nigeria instead of England.

Zaha’s goal was good enough for the visitors as the first half drew to a close. Leicester needed to correct things going into the second half and they did just that as Belgian Timothy Castagne equalised for the Foxes within five minutes of the second half by smashing the ball into the roof of the net with his left foot after being set up by the in-form Nigerian – Kelechi Iheanacho.

Palace nearly retook the lead but a superb sliding challenge from Jonny Evans denied Christian Benteke a tap-in into an unguarded goal.

That missed chance proved critical as Iheanacho scored his 12th goal in nine games when he cut inside on to his left foot and blasted the ball past goalkeeper Vicente Guaita for another late winner as he scored in the 80th minute.

The result further consolidates Leicester’s position in the Premier League as they sit in third, 4 points ahead of Chelsea, but more importantly, it takes them seven points clear of fifth-placed West Ham with five matches to go in the fight for UEFA Champions League places.

“It’s a massive three points for us and we were nervous a bit,” said Iheanacho.


Zaha’s goal was in vain as Palace failed to hold onto their lead (Photo by Adrian Dennis/PA Images via Getty Images)

“We changed it around and got control of the game and got them running. But there’s still a lot of work to do, we can’t talk about the Champions League until the last game.”

Leicester, who have also reached the FA Cup final for the first time since 1969, is having a successful campaign this season as Brendan Rodgers’ side has looked like one of the best teams in England.

The Foxes do have a difficult run-in, however as they are yet to face Manchester United who are above them in second place. They also have to face Chelsea who are behind them in fourth and Tottenham who have an outside but unlikely chance of qualifying for Europe next season as they sit in seventh.

Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers said, “It was a very important win for us. It was the third game in nine days so a tough schedule.

“Going one behind against a Roy team, they’re super organised and tough to break down. I thought the players were outstanding. They kept the calmness and control and scored two very good goals.

“[Scoring early into the second half] definitely helps. It sets us up. It settled us. We could then control the rest of the game.

“[Iheanacho’s goal was] incredible. Great pass by Jonny [Evans]. We told the strikers to find space in between the centre-backs and full-backs. It was a great ball into space. The skill to turn and finish quickly. A wonderful goal. It capped off a great night for him.

“The top priority for me as a coach is helping players to develop. it’s been difficult for Kels because of the style we normally played which was one striker – Jamie Vardy. We had to change it around with injuries, he’s come in and been exceptional. Not just his goals. He’s so happy to work hard for the team and his quality is phenomenal.”

Leicester play at Southampton on Friday and any points dropped there will hurt them as they are favourites to come out on top against the Saints in what is a repeat of the FA Cup semifinal.

Crystal Palace have an even stiffer task as they face league leaders Manchester City on Saturday.