English Premiership

Leicester surprise Hammers at home

2015-08-15 18:16
Riyad Mahrez (Gallo Images)

London - Leicester climbed to the top of the Premier League as Japan striker Shinji Okazaki's first goal for his new club inspired a 2-1 win at West Ham on Saturday.

Okazaki, a pre-season signing from German club Mainz, opened the scoring at Upton Park and Riyad Mahrez added Leicester's second goal before half-time.

Dimitri Payet reduced the deficit after the break, but Claudio Ranieri's side held on for a victory that took them above Manchester United on goal difference after West Ham goalkeeper Adrian was sent off in stoppage-time.

Leicester had started the season with an impressive thrashing of Sunderland last weekend continuing the momentum of their escape from relegation under previous boss Nigel Pearson last season.

They had failed to win any of their last 20 Premier League matches in London and lost on all six of their visits to the English capital last season.

But that dismal record was put to bed in emphatic fashion in the East End.

West Ham enjoyed a fine 2-0 win at Arsenal on opening day and one of the stand-outs in that shock result was 16-year-old midfielder Reece Oxford.

Oxford came close to opening the scoring when he met a Payet free-kick with a header that deflected over, but he looked more like a boy amongst men on this occasion and was eventually taken off at half-time.

By that point, Ranieri's team had firmly taken control.

In midweek, Leicester striker Jamie Vardy had been given a substantial fine after a British newspaper published a video allegedly showing the England international abusing a Japanese man at a casino.

The situation could have caused problems for Ranieri given that Vardy's strike partner is Okazaki, but the Japan star had "taken no offence" about his team-mate's behaviour, according to Ranieri, and the pair backed up their manager's faith by combining for Leicester's 26th minute opener.

Vardy clipped a fine pass to Okazaki and although his initial volley was well saved by Adrian he kept his composure to steer in the rebound with his head.

Dominating possession, Leicester swept forward to double their lead in the 38th minute and again Okazaki played a key role.

Okazaki's pass picked out Marc Albrighton in a dangerous position on the left wing and he sent the ball into Mahrez's path for the Algerian midfielder to sweep home a powerful first-time finish for his third goal of the season.

Payet gave West Ham a lifeline when the former Marseille playmaker struck in the 55th minute, taking Cheikhou Kouyate's pass and firing into the top corner.

Leicester suffered a setback when Okazaki, who sustained an injury in the first half, was forced to limp off on the hour.

But Kasper Schmeichel preserved Leicester's 100 percent start, denying Diafra Sakho with two good saves before Adrian was controversially dismissed for a clash with Vardy even though it appeared it was the Leicester man who caught the goalkeeper with a high boot.

 

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Fixtures
Saturday, 23 November 2019
West Ham United v Tottenham Hotspur, London Stadium 14:30
Arsenal v Southampton, Emirates Stadium 17:00
Everton v Norwich City, Goodison Park 17:00
Crystal Palace v Liverpool, Selhurst Park 17:00
Brighton & Hove Albion v Leicester City, The American Express Community Stadium 17:00
Watford v Burnley, Vicarage Road 17:00
AFC Bournemouth v Wolverhampton Wanderers, Vitality Stadium 17:00
Manchester City v Chelsea, Etihad Stadium 19:30
Sunday, 24 November 2019
Sheffield United v Manchester United, Bramall Lane 18:30
Monday, 25 November 2019
Aston Villa v Newcastle United, Villa Park 22:00
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