Football: High-flying Heskey

Crystal Palace 0 Leicester City 3 Heskey 45, 60, Elliot 7 4 Attendance: 18,771
Click to follow
The Independent Online
FOOTBALLERS are normally well rewarded for their efforts, so Palace are going down while Leicester's Emile Heskey is about to become a millionaire. Palace gave so little to this game and seemed to share everyone else's belief that they were already doomed to relegation before kick-off. Now, they surely are.

Heskey, 20, who scored two good goals before Matt Elliott added a third, has a much brighter future. His manager Martin O'Neill wants the Leicester board to break their pay structure to keep the young forward at the club with a bumper new contract despite his poor run of goals before yesterday. He had scored in only three previous matches and this was his first time on target away from home, but he does have the goal-poaching prowess of a genuine finisher who can progress much further in the game.

O'Neill's judgement was vindicated on this performance as Heskey scored his sixth and seventh goals of the season either side of half-time. The first came in the 45th minute when he reacted first to a near-post cross by Graham Fenton and volleyed in from close range. His second, on the hour, was just as simple and clinical when he finished from six yards after Robbie Savage had knocked down a deep Steve Guppy cross.

But nothing stirred Palace from their lethargy and Leicester's third, with 16 minutes to go, was almost inevitable. It was also the pick of the bunch as Elliott drove a low shot from a tight angle after a Savage shot had rebounded off Heskey.

O'Neill said afterwards: "Emile has had a difficult season second time around, but, remarkably, I honestly feel he is a better player now because there is more to his game. He could and should aim to get 20 goals next season and he is clearly a very important player for us."

Palace look doomed - andnow have only four home games left in which to avoid playing the entire season without a Premiership win at Selhurst Park.