Crystal Palace end winless run with late Mateta winner against Leicester City in Roy Hodgson’s return

Jean-P­hilippe Mateta’s late winner ensured that returning Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson got off to a winning start, as the Eagles ended their 12-match winless run in the Premier League with a 2-1 victory over Leicester City.

The level-headed approach synonymous with the stewardship of Roy Hodgson, who broke his own record as the Premier League’s oldest-ever manager when returning to the Selhurst Park hotseat, gave Palace a fresh impetus in the early minutes. The Eagles flew out of the traps, and Cheick Doucouré’s low strike from the edge of the area was held by Leicester stopper Daniel Iversen. Winless in five and just one point above the drop zone, Leicester had to hold firm early on, but nearly led through fortuitous circumstances, as Victor Kristiansen’s mis-hit cross looped over Vicente Guaita and hit the post.

Palace soon regained control and seemed desperate to add to their league-low of 22 goals this season, as Eberechi Eze skipped past three players, before unleashing a powerful shot towards the top corner that a flying Iversen palmed away to keep Leicester’s hopes of a first post-World Cup clean sheet alive. Those hopes were also aided in sad circumstances shortly after, when a potential season-ending injury to Palace’s top-scorer Zaha on the stroke of HT hushed the once deafening home crowd.

Leicester inevitably sensed an opportunity to claw back into the game, and substitute Ricardo Pereira duly delivered as he cut in from the left flank, eventually lashing an unstoppable strike into the top corner past Vicente Guaita. However, Palace were level almost immediately with a stroke of luck to end their two-match goalless run at Selhurst Park, after Eberechi Eze’s free-kick clattered the crossbar. There were groans aplenty, but they turned to jubilant cheers as the ball bounced off Iversen’s back and rolled into the net.

Palace continued to probe for a winner late on, and it duly came in the fifth minute of added time, when Jordan Ayew’s attempted effort fell to Mateta. With the weight of South London on his shoulders, he sealed a victorious homecoming for Roy Hodgson with a cool finish, staking a great claim for the Eagles’ survival while leaving Leicester just one point above the relegation zone.

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