After a traumatic week they obliterated Leicester's 100% record at the King Power Stadium and moved just a point behind their second-placed opponents. Dougie who?
Freedman's flit to Bolton provoked anger and sadness in equal measure, and, if Palace fans were not feeling down enough, before the match Leicester showed Steve Claridge's winner in the last minute of extra-time of the 1996 play-off final between these sides on the big screen, complete with very loud, very excited commentary. It was the equivalent of forcing someone to watch footage of that time their house burnt down just after they've been burgled.
Palace's performance, though, gave those in the away end plenty of reason for cheer. The Foxes, top of the league coming into this fixture, created only one clear chance in the opening exchanges, Jamie Vardy chasing on to a long through-ball which the Palace goalkeeper Julian Speroni inexplicably failed to sweep up, and pulling back for David Nugent, who could only poke into the Argentinian's midriff.
With Wilfried Zaha proving why he is one of the hottest properties outside of the Premier League with snake-hipped torture of both City full-backs, it was little surprise when the visitors took the lead. Kasper Schmeichel had played down reported interest from Real Madrid last week, but did far more with his actions to make the Bernabéu appear an unlikely destination than he could with his words. The Leicester goalkeeper bundled into a bunched group of players when trying to collect Owen Garvan's corner midway through the half and could only flap the ball to the feet of Damien Delaney, who lashed the loose ball home.
Four minutes later Yannick Bolasie swung in a corner from the opposite side, Schmeichel, perhaps chastened, stayed on his line on this occasion, and Delaney's central defensive partner, Peter Ramage, was allowed to thunder a header home from no more than five yards.
Leicester's ascent to the summit had been based on their home form so they could have been expected to respond forcefully. Nigel Pearson certainly did – dragging off Lloyd Dyer for Matty James with little more than half an hour gone – and his team soon followed suit. Garvan was forced to nod off the line after a scramble from a Leicester corner and it took a sprawling low save from Speroni to keep out Andy King's effort just before the break.
The onslaught continued immediately after the interval with Nugent thumping a shot straight at Speroni from the edge of the area and Vardy nodding limply over the bar from close range after a game of head tennis inside the box. But Palace glimmered with threat on the break, with Zaha, though occasionally seeming to labour under the impression that no one will even attempt to swipe the ball from his possession, always a willing outlet.
The referee, Andy Haines, had done nothing to endear himself to home fans throughout the afternoon and his status as persona non grata was rubber-stamped with 20 minutes to go. Three times in as many minutes Leicester appealed for penalties, three times their pleas were ignored.
Nugent tumbled in the box, then had a header cleared off the line by Joel Ward, possibly with the aid of his arm, before De Laet hit the deck to bring the final, most optimistic, roar for a spot-kick.
Palace were nervy, justifiably so having thrown away a two-goal lead against Millwall last weekend and drawing at Barnsley in midweek after leading 1-0, and when Andy King looped a header beyond Speroni in the first of three minutes of stoppage time the visitors feared the worst. One final scramble was survived, though, and news of Bolton's defeat against Middlesbrough proved the icing on the cake.
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