BY SAM SMITH
A wonderful Wilfried Zaha volley was not enough for Crystal Palace to earn a first win in five matches as they were pegged back to a 1-1 draw by Leicester City.
Zaha’s stunning second-half volley was cancelled out by a late Harvey Barnes goal. The Eagles are without a win since their 5-1 thrashing of West Brom on December 6. For boss Roy Hodgson, there will be relief that this was not another defeat after two heavy reverses in succession.
Leicester were the better side in the first half and had an opportunity to take the lead inside 20 minutes when James Tomkins brought down Ben Thomas in the penalty box. Kelechi Iheancho’s poor spot-kick was saved by Vicente Guaita.
The Foxes forward then missed another excellent chance – heading over from close range after Dennis Praet had beaten Tyrick Mitchell down Palace’s left. Ayoze Perez’s deflected cross looped on to the top of the crossbar and Harvey Barnes fired the rebound over.
Hodgson made five changes to the starting 11 that had lost so comfortably against Aston Villa on Boxing Day. The Eagles took a while to grow into the game, although should have led midway through the first half when Jeffrey Schlupp centred for Andros Townsend. The winger somehow fired wide from eight yards when he should have hit the target.
The South Londoners were vastly improved after half-time and led through a wonderful Zaha goal in the 58th minute. The 28-year-old led a counter attack, passing to Townsend on the right. Townsend then crossed for Zaha to thump in a volley from a tight angle.
With Leicester creating few chances it seemed Palace might hold on, but Barnes was allowed too much space on the edge of the penalty area on 83 minutes. The 23-year-old stepped inside and drove a left-footed shot beyond Guaita.
Palace face winless Sheffield United on Saturday.
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