Crystal Palace 3-2 Leicester
07/08/10 - 3 p.m.
Paulo Sousa endured a difficult opening match in charge of Leicester as defensive frailities were to prove costly for the Foxes at Selhurst Park.
The home side raced into a three goal half-time lead thanks to strikes from Wilfired Zaha, Darren Ambrose and Alan Lee to leave the Foxes reeling at the break.
A spirited second half performance saw a fightback within reach after goals from Andy King and DJ Campbell, but an error-strewn first period was to prove too much to rectify as Palace left with all three points.
Sousa began with Campbell and Matty Fryatt up front for City, whilst Dany N'Guessan was handed a rare first team start on the wing. Midfielder Richie Wellens was left on the bench.
Neilson --- Morrison --- Hobbs --- Berner
N'Guessan --- Oakley --- King --- Dyer
Fryatt --- Campbell
Meanwhile new Crystal Palace manager George Burley included 17-year-old striker Wilfried Zaha in his starting lineup after an impressive pre-season, a decision which reaped its rewards with great effect.
The opening exchanges saw a relatively even balance of play, with both sides forging efforts on goal through Owen Garvan and Lloyd Dyer respectively.
It didn't take long for Palace to take control however, and Leicester's usually-dependent defence began to crumble with worrying ease.
Zaha and strike partner Lee were causing numerous problems for Jack Hobbs and Michael Morrison, a feat not mirrored by DJ Campbell and Matty Fryatt for Leicester, who both struggled in the first period.
Campbell received an exaggerated ovation from the travelling blue army prior to the match, an over-zealous and fickle reaction sadly all too common for City fans.
But sure enough, it was the Eagles who broke the deadlock after some horror defending from Hobbs. Julian Speroni's long clearance upfield was completely missed by the young centre back, leaving Zaha with the task of slamming the ball home for his first Palace goal.
It was a moment to forget for England Under-21 hopeful Hobbs, but things soon turned from bad to worse just seven minutes later.
Allowed too much space in the middle of the park Palace worked the ball to Darren Ambrose, who hit an impressive low shot past Chris Weale into the bottom corner.
It was an awful start for City, who barely found any ounce of threat in the opening period. Lloyd Dyer was a rare positive of a drab performance, his determination to attack at will refreshing for a player who often seems to lack confidence.
With the rain tumbling, Leicester's first half reached disastrous status as Burley's side grabbed a third just before the break.
Zaha's shot from the right could only be parried by Weale in the Leicester goal, giving Alan Lee the simplest of tap-ins to seemingly put the game beyond doubt.
Sousa would not have expected to be giving his first Championship half-time team talk with his side three goals down, but with his words ringing in their ears the game began to turn on its head.
Dyer crafted Leicester's first menacing opportunity of the second period when his stinging effort cannoned off the crossbar from a tight angle.
And just before the hour mark, the Foxes did pull one back. Robbie Neilson's delightful cross from the right found the onrushing Andy King, who made no mistake of heading home inside the area.
With Fryatt clearly struggling up front for Leicester it was no surprise to see Steve Howard enter the fray with an hour gone. The only thing surprising was how he had not arrived earlier.
His impact was immediate, and soon Leicester began to cause the Palace backline problems. The direct Howard ruffled feathers from the off, and was ultimately making a complete nuisance of himself.
Speroni kept the scoreline the same with good saves from Dyer and King, as City pressed forward with almost total control of the game.
Weale saved well from Ambrose on a Palace counter-attack, but it was Sousa's side who grabbed a second goal to set up a tense finish with six minutes remaining.
Leicester were spurred on by a following crowd in good voice in the second period, and pressure eventually told when DJ Campbell finished off Howard's inch-perfect cross which left Speroni helpless.
What should have been ten more minutes of questions for the Crystal Palace defence turned out to be a comfortable ride, and City never threated from there-on.
It was too little too late for Leicester, who have only themselves to blame after a hapless first half display in defence.
The second half performance will certainly please Sousa however, who saw a revitalised unit dominate proceedings.
Lloyd Dyer should be happy with a confident performance of his own, whilst there were positive attacking signs from right back Robbie Neilson, often ridiculed for his limitations.
Ultimately it was Palace who deserved all three points, but Burley will not be happy with the pressure applied on his side in the second period.
Youngster Wilfried Zaha ran riot in the first 45 minutes, scoring one and making two to cap off an excellent first start in an Eagles shirt.
Leicester host Championship favourites Middlesbrough at the Walkers Stadium next Saturday knowing that mistakes such as thode made yesterday will not go unpunished once again.
Leicester: Weale, Neilson, Hobbs, Morrison, Berner, King, Oakley (c), N'Guessan (Wellens, 60), Dyer, Fryatt (Howard, 61), Campbell
Subs: Logan, Parkes, Moore, Kennedy, John
Crystal Palace: Speroni, Clyne, Davis, McCarthy, Ambrose, Lee (Andrew, 63), Garvan, Dorman, Cadogan (N'Diaye, 63), Zaha (Dijlali, 77), Bennett
Subs: Barrett, Price, Holland, Holness
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