Crystal Palace 2-1 Leicester City: Delight for Roy Hodgson as Jean-Philippe Mateta scores with the LAST kick of the match to deliver a winning start to life back at Selhurst Park for the 75-year-old boss
- Crystal Palace left it late to secure stoppage time winner over Leicester
- Returning Palace manager Roy Hodgson marked his return with three points
- Ricardo Pereira scored first before Palace struck twice in the second-half
Put your feet up Mrs Hodgson, your husband could be here a while.
Premier League OAP Roy Hodgson joked that his other half was glad to see the back of him as he came out of retirement to return to the Selhurst Park hottest.
And it looked like the right call by Crystal Palace to reappoint their 75-year-old former manager as they came from behind to earn their first win since New Year’s Eve.
The Eagles also put in one of their best performances in months, especially in the first half, and then showed plenty of character to fight back after half-time substitute Ricardo Pereira’s shock opener.
Eberechi Eze fired in a free kick which went in off Daniel Iversen’s back to draw the home side level, and Jean-Philippe Mateta later sealed a dramatic victory deep in stoppage time.
Roy Hodgson celebrated his return to Crystal Palace with a 2-1 win over Leicester on Saturday
Jean-Philippe Mateta (right) scored the winning goal in stoppage time as his strike ensured victory
Mateta celebrated wildly as his last-minute goal send Selhurst Park into raptures
Hodgson only signed up for the job of replacing Patrick Vieira until the end of the season, and it remains very early days. But if he continues like this, Palace will be showing a longer deal under his nose as quickly as possible.
It also denied Leicester what could have been a priceless point in their battle to beat the drop, in the most heartbreaking of circumstances, leaving them back in the bottom three.
If you had told anyone at Palace a year ago that Hodgson would be back in the dug-out for this game, they would have called you an April fool. But there he was, standing there sternly with his hands in his pockets like he’d never been away.
He waved to the crowd as he followed the teams out before kick-off and got a warm round of applause in response, and a big old friendly hug from Brendan Rodgers.
Hodgson has always been a hands-on manager. So much so that even back when he was a sprightly 58-year-old, he was raising eyebrows.
Back then, as manager of Finland, he once demonstrated how he wanted his wing backs to overlap by suddenly interrupting a team meeting to dash out of a side door and reappear at the back of the room crying: “Like this!”
Now approaching his 80s, he may not quite have the same spring in his step, but one of the first things he did in training this week was demand a “much more energetic approach” from his players.
It certainly seemed to have sunk in, as Wilfried Zaha had a shot blocked by Wout Faes and Daniel Iversen saved from Cheick Doucoure, Eberechi Eze and Zaha in a frantic opening from the home side.
There was concern for Wilfried Zaha who left the pitch injured
But Palace survived a scare when Victor Kristiansen’s cross looped up and hit the far post during a rare Leicester attack.
Joachim Andersen headed a corner narrowly wide as Palace did everything but score in a first half in which they peppered Iversen’s goal with 20 shots.
But the sight of Zaha limping off before the break clutching his inner thigh certainly brought the Eagles down to earth with a bump.
And there were early warning signs after the restart when Tomothy Castagne quickly got in for a shot which Vicente Guaita did well to stop.
Palace did not heed them, conceding when Castagne set up half-time sub Ricardo Pereira on the edge of the box and he was given the freedom of Selhurst Park to pick his spot and rifle on into the top corner.
But Leicester’s lead last barely three minutes as they conceded a free kick in a dangerous area and Eze took full advantage.
Iversen probably should have stopped it, but Eze’s curling kick beat him to hit the crossbar and cannon off the City keeper’s back into the net.
The Danish keeper has done well to supplant Danny Ward in the Leicester goal, and while he will want that one back, he made a string of other important saves in this match to keep his side in it.
Leicester initially took the lead through Ricardo Pereira’s thunderous strike
Leicester players celebrated what they thought would be a goal to punish Palace on the road
But Eberechi Eze’s brilliant free-kick rebounded in off goalkeeper Daniel Iversen to level the match
Eze was fortunate to get the foul but produced a terrific free-kick effort to pull Palace level
Marc Guehi was then fortunate to escape punishment for a clumsy collision with James Maddison, who would have been clean through on goal.
Iversen then did well at full stretch to tip another goalbound effort from Eze around the upright as the home side pressed hard for a winner.
Leicester suddenly looked stretched and leggy, and Palace, roared on by a more and more boisterous crowd, kept piling on the pressure.
More pressure has now been heaped on Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers as their slide down the table continued
Even with Kelechi Iheanacho thrown on, the visitors lacked any real threat up front and were constantly fighting a rearguard action trying to escape with a point.
Guehi was only inches away from getting the vital connection to a deep free kick from Michael Olise as Leicester clung on. But they were largely pinned inside their own half as Palace pressed.
And then, deep into stoppage time, disaster struck for Leicester as superb Mateta, who had just missed one decent chances, took a touch to control a pass from Jordan Ayew and fire past Iversen.
Cue bedlam at Selhurst, despair in the away end, and a huge outpouring of relief from Palace fans so long starved of success, while shell-shocked Leicester players stared into space in disbelief. It never rains but it pours when you’re at the wrong end of the table.
CRYSTAL PALACE (4-3-3): Guaita 6; Ward 6, Andersen 6, Guehi 6, Mitchell 6; Eze 7.5, Doucoure 6, Schlupp 5 (Hughes 81); Olise 6, Edouard 6 (Mateta 86), Zaha 7 (Ayew 45, 6).
Subs: Johnstone, Milivojevic, Lokonga, Clyne, McArthur, Riedewald
Goals: Own goal (Iverson), Mateta 90+4′
Bookings: Mateta, Eze, Guehi
Coach: Roy Hodgson
LEICESTER (4-2-3-1): Iversen 7; Kristiansen 6, Faes 7, Souttar 7, Castagne 6; Ndidi 5, Dewsbury-Hall 6; Tete 5 (Pereira 46, 6), Maddison 6, Barnes 5; Daka 5 (Iheanacho 72)
Subs not used: Ward, Soyuncu, Vardy, Amartey, Pereira, Mendy, Thomas, Soumare
Goals: Pereira 56′
Bookings: Dewsbury-Hall, Ndidi, Kristiansen, Souttar
Coach: Brendan Rodgers
Man of the Match: Eberechi Eze – a difference-maker
Referee: Tim Robinson 6
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