Leicester inch closer to Premier League title with win vs. Palace

LONDON -- More than 15 minutes after the final whistle, Leicester fans were still singing, finally ready to believe their team will become the unlikeliest of champions.

"We're going to win the league," they chanted continuously in unison after Leicester grabbed a third successive 1-0 victory on Saturday at Crystal Palace. "And now you're going to believe us."

The Selhurst Park stadium announcer tried to urge them to leave, but the visiting supporters responded in an instant: "We shall not be moved."

Just like the team will surely not be shifted from the Premier League summit. Not when it is provisionally eight points clear with seven matches to go.

The lethal double act of Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy combined again to see off Palace, clinching a slender win emblematic of this astonishing pursuit of the title.

Mahrez arrived unmarked in the penalty area to meet Vardy's cross in the 34th minute at Selhurst Park and sweep in his 16th goal of the season.

A year after sitting bottom of the league before winning a late battle against relegation, Leicester is now poised to win the world's richest league for the first time. Tottenham, which trails Leicester by eight points, is still to play on Sunday against Bournemouth.

But a top-four finish now seems a certainty, giving Leicester a route into the Champions League for the first time.

"Our fans are singing, but we must stay concentrated," Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri said. "The Champions League is close. It would be an amazing achievement."

Thirteen of Leicester's 31 league games have now been secured by one-goal margins. And like so often during this improbable bid for a first-ever league title, Leicester's opponent enjoyed most of the possession in London but clung on for the victory.

"I think they showed in the first half why they are top of the league," Palace manager Alan Pardew said. "We go couldn't make any impact on them ... it's very hard to get through them."


LONDON -- With its season all but over, Chelsea took some pleasure in stopping London rival West Ham from moving into the top four of the English Premier League in a 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

Knocked out of the FA Cup and the Champions League in the last week, Chelsea got its goals from Cesc Fabregas, including an 89th-minute penalty after Ruben Loftus-Cheek was judged to have been tripped by Michail Antonio. Replays suggested minimal contact at most and outside the area.

Andy Carroll made it 2-1 in the 61st, scoring one minute after coming off the bench, after Fabregas' brilliant free kick canceled out Manuel Lanzini's superb opener.

Chelsea stayed midtable while West Ham was fifth, one point behind Manchester City.


WEST BROMWICH, England -- Norwich rose out of the English Premier League relegation zone and ended an 11-game winless in beating West Bromwich Albion 1-0 on Saturday.

Norwich could yet be overtaken by Sunderland, which plays Newcastle on Sunday, but the Canaries were also celebrating their first away clean sheet of the season.

Robbie Brady's second-half winner in a goalmouth scramble was the high point of a dull match.

West Brom failed to test Norwich goalkeeper John Ruddy, and couldn't prevent an end to its unbeaten run of eight home games since December.


WATFORD, England -- Stoke moved within a point of Manchester United in sixth place in the English Premier League after accounting for Watford 2-1 on Saturday.

Watford played like a shadow of the side which beat Arsenal to reach the FA Cup semifinals last weekend.

Jonathan Walters, recalled as a starter, took advantage of a Watford error to convert Phil Bardsley's cross at the far post in the first half. Bardsley set up Marko Arnautovic moments later but the goal was disallowed for a slim offside.

Soon after the interval, Stoke was 2-0 up pouncing on another error. Norwich goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes scuffed his free kick straight to Walters, who volleyed to Joselu to put away.

Watford finally replied when substitute Ikechi Anya crossed for Troy Deeney to head in. But they couldn't add an equalizer.