English Premiership

Leicester sink West Ham, continue surge

2017-03-18 19:37
Jamie Vardy (Getty)

London - Leicester City made it four wins from four under new manager Craig Shakespeare as the Premier League champions squeaked home 3-2 at West Ham United on Saturday.

The win added to domestic home victories over Liverpool and Hull City plus Tuesday's Champions League success over Sevilla, which set up a last-eight assignment with Atletico Madrid.

First-half goals by Riyad Mahrez, Robert Huth and Jamie Vardy were enough to send Leicester six points clear of danger, but efforts from Manuel Lanzini and Andre Ayew had them hanging on at London Stadium.

Leicester were forced into a significant change to their preferred line-up, with captain Wes Morgan ruled out by a back injury sustained against Sevilla.

That ended the centre-back's 87-game run in the Premier League and allowed the little-used Yohan Benalouane a first league start in almost two seasons with the Foxes.

Not that the change unsettled Leicester in any way as the champions motored into a two-goal lead within seven minutes.

Mahrez scored the first in the fifth minute, although his curling effort from the right was almost certainly a cross intended for either Shinji Okazaki or Vardy, who had given him the ball.

But there was no doubt about the second two minutes later.

Having traded passes with Mahrez from a free-kick, Marc Albrighton lofted the ball into the danger zone for the onrushing Huth to head home from seven yards.

West Ham's woes were compounded when Winston Reid fell awkwardly and was helped off, to be replaced by Robert Snodgrass in the 19th minute.

Lanzini put a smile straight back on West Ham faces, however, with a perfectly placed free-kick a minute later to make it 2-1.

Danny Drinkwater fouled Michail Antonio 25 yards in front of goal, giving the Argentinian the opportunity to curl the ball over the wall and into the top corner, with goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel not even moving.

Leicester had to dig deep for a while as West Ham peppered their area with crosses, but then took advantage of some more dire defending by the hosts, this time from a corner.

Albrighton's delivery was allowed to reach Vardy in front of goal and the England striker swivelled to smash the ball high past Darren Randolph.

Lanzini came close to pulling one back once again with a low shot that went wide of Schmeichel's right-hand post, but the half ended with Leicester comfortably ahead.

Drinkwater was booked for upending Cheikhou Kouyate early in a second half that began scrappily.

West Ham were fortunate when Mahrez's pass put Vardy in a shooting position on the left of the box, only for the forward to chip over Randolph and the crossbar as well.

West Ham took advantage by pulling a goal back again, with Ayew the scorer in the 63rd minute after Schmeichel tipped Lanzini's long-range free-kick behind for a corner.

Andy Carroll headed the set-piece back to Ayew, whose header had enough power to go through Schmeichel.

West Ham threw men forward in search of an equaliser and Schmeichel did well to keep out a Carroll header before Ayew, set up by Antonio and ruled to be onside, blasted over with all the goal to aim at.

Huth was in the right place at the right time to block a goal-bound effort from Kouyate in another frantic passage of play in the Leicester box.

Schmeichel kept Leicester's lead intact in stoppage time with a reflex save to deny Carroll after Snodgrass's free-kick had been deflected into the striker's path.

Randolph then denied Leicester substitute Islam Slimani a clinching fourth on the break with an equally impressive block.

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Fixtures
01 April 2017
Liverpool v Everton, Anfield 13:30
Leicester City v Stoke City, King Power Stadium 16:00
Hull City v West Ham United, Kingston Communications Stadium 16:00
Manchester United v West Bromwich Albion, Old Trafford 16:00
Chelsea v Crystal Palace, Stamford Bridge 16:00
Burnley v Tottenham Hotspur, Turf Moor 16:00
Watford v Sunderland, Vicarage Road Stadium 16:00
Southampton v AFC Bournemouth, St. Mary's Stadium 18:30
02 April 2017
Swansea City v Middlesbrough, Liberty Stadium 14:30
Arsenal v Manchester City, Emirates Stadium 17:00
04 April 2017
Leicester City v Sunderland, King Power Stadium 20:45
Burnley v Stoke City, Turf Moor 20:45
Watford v West Bromwich Albion, Vicarage Road Stadium 20:45
Manchester United v Everton, Old Trafford 21:00
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