Belfast Telegraph

Under-fire Puel calls for Foxes fans to stay faithful

Leicester are winless since New Year’s Day after a 4-1 defeat to Palace.

Leicester manager Claude Puel is under pressure after another defeat (John Walton/PA)
Leicester manager Claude Puel is under pressure after another defeat (John Walton/PA)

Boss Claude Puel has urged Leicester fans to stick with them despite a thumping defeat by Crystal Palace

Wilfried Zaha’s brace, Michy Batshuayi’s lucky opener and Luka Milivojevic’s penalty sealed an emphatic 4-1 victory for the Eagles.

The Foxes are now winless in their last seven games with boss Puel under mounting pressure.

Leicester, who equalled a club record of four straight Premier League home defeats, have won just four league games at the King Power Stadium this season but the Frenchman asked for the fans’ backing.

“I understand their feelings and I understand their disappointment,” he said, with Leicester in 12th.

“All I can say is keep all their support for the players for the next game against Brighton (on Tuesday) because they need to keep their confidence.

“It’s a difficult moment in their careers – a difficult moment in the season – they have to find a good reaction, good response and a positive attitude.

“Sometimes they have disappointment with all the effort and it’s difficult to accept.

“Of course one point from six is a big disappointment. If we look at the points it’s not enough. But if we look at the performances it’s crazy when you see what we’re producing on the pitch. We must keep going.”

Exactly two years ago the club sacked Claudio Ranieri after a 2-1 first-leg defeat in the Champions League last 16 in Seville.

Then they were one point above the relegation zone and, while there is no danger of the drop this season, Leicester have dropped out of European contention.

Batshuayi opened the scoring four minutes before the break when he deflected in James McArthur’s shot.

Jonny Evans equalised for Leicester, his first goal for the club, before they conceded three times in the final 20 minutes.

Zaha’s close-range volley and injury-time strike came either side of Milivojevic’s penalty after Evans brought down Jeff Schupp.

Palace jumped to 13th, six points above the bottom three and two behind Leicester.

“As far as we’re concerned there are 11 matches left and we’re on a good run of form but it’s a victory which will give us a lot of heart,” Palace boss Roy Hodgson said.

“We are getting closer to getting that magical number of 40. If we’re capable of coming to a team like this and also getting a win at Man City I’ve got to believe in this team. We’re never beaten.

“I was very pleased with the defending throughout the game. It was important we dug in, Leicester are a good team and we worked hard to restrict them. As the game wore on we established a bit more control.”

Hodgson also reserved praise for Chelsea loanee Batshuayi after his first goal for the club.

“He’s only played four games for us, he is looking very lively, at Doncaster he was unlucky not to score,” he added.

“We think he is doing what we’d like him to do and showing all the signs of being a goalscorer.”

PA

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