Kelechi Iheanacho

Leicester Fall To Rare Away Loss At West Ham

Leicester City suffered only their second Premier League away defeat of the season as they were beaten 3-2 by West Ham United at London Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
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Brendan Rodgers made two changes from the starting XI which faced Manchester City last weekend, as Ricardo Pereira and Dennis Praet came into the side in the capital.

Jamie Vardy, meanwhile, was handed his 300th start for the Football Club alongside in-form frontman Kelechi Iheanacho in attack as Rodgers deployed a 3-5-2 system.

After observing a beautiful two-minute silence for His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, who died on Friday, matchday 31 of 2020/21 got underway.

Inside four minutes, Iheanacho found a pocket of space in front of West Ham’s 18-yard box and elected to shoot, forcing Łukasz Fabiański into a low, but comfortable, early save.

The Nigerian had another sight of goal shortly afterwards, as Jonny Evans’ forward ball bobbled off Aaron Cresswell's shoulder and right into his path. City’s No.14, though, was unable to find the target from the angle of the home side's penalty area.

After Tomáš Souček’s booking, for a late challenge on Youri Tielemans, Belgian compatriots Praet and Timothy Castagne linked up nicely, with the latter only just being beaten to the ball inside the six-yard box by Fabiański for David Moyes’ in-form Hammers.

Castagne’s defensive capabilities were soon on show at the other end, too, as a stray pass from Daniel Amartey fell to Jarrod Bowen, but when he tried to locate Jesse Lingard, the Belgian was there to calmly sweep up the danger just in time.

Midway through the first half, effective interplay between Iheanacho and Tielemans, on the right channel, allowed the latter to thread a pass through to Vardy in space, but the Club’s all-time top Premier League goalscorer was denied well by Fabiański.

West Ham were in front on 29 minutes in Stratford when Vladimír Coufal’s cross was hit on the half-volley and straight into the bottom corner by England midfielder Lingard, an ex-Leicester loanee.

With just 10 minutes to go until the interval, meanwhile, Craig Dawson made an essential, point-blank block for the Hammers to frustrate Iheanacho, following tidy footwork by Tielemans in the area, before Wilfred Ndidi prevented Lingard from doubling his tally on the counter-attack.

The man on loan from Manchester United would indeed eventually make it two for the home side, though. Issa Diop’s forward pass was taken down well by Bowen before the former Hull City winger slid it across to West Ham's No.11 for a simple finish.

At the interval, Luke Thomas was introduced in Amartey's place for the Foxes, but the Hammers started the second period on the front foot and it was 3-0 after just three minutes as Souček's pass came through to Bowen to convert from close range. 

While Diop's header shortly afterwards found the back of the net, it was eventually ruled out for offside by VAR. Later, Praet was unfortunate not to get a shot away after Tielemans' cross, but Souček did just about enough to prevent the former Sampdoria midfielder from getting a sight on goal. 

Albrighton was then introduced from the bench for City and, within moments, he went close to narrowing the arrears for the visitors when Fabiański spilled it into his feet, but second-half substitute Fabián Balbuena got in the way to spare his goalkeeper's blushes.  

When Arthur Masuaku inadvertently passed it straight to Iheanacho with just over 20 minutes remaining, however, March's Premier League Player of the Month needed no further invitation to net his 13th goal of 2020/21 in all competitions with a fearsome rocket from outside the area.

That was his eighth goal in six outings for the Foxes and, but for a last-ditch header from Dawson, back to Fabiański, it could have been nine in six for Iheanacho shortly afterwards. Mark Noble, too, was able to block Tielemans' low drive with 15 minutes to go as Leicester improved late on.

Another significant opportunity came and went for City when Tielemans fizzed a first-time pass through to Ricardo in the area. Fabiański, though, did brilliantly to gallop off his line and seize upon it before the Portugal full-back could make contact. 

Albrighton injected real urgency into Leicester's play in the final moments and the visitors got another goal back in the first of six minutes of added time as Iheanacho applied a composed finish to a drilled cross from City's No.11. The former Manchester City striker is now on 14 goals in all competitions this term.

When Thomas won a corner for the visitors, goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel advanced upfield and into the penalty area in a last-ditch effort to rescue a point. Castagne then had an effort blocked, before Wesley Fofana nodded agonisingly wide, but that would prove to be the last action of the match.

Major moment

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Jesse Lingard
Jesse Lingard

A first-half brace from Jesse Lingard gave the Hammers a solid foundation heading into the second period.

Despite falling behind in the capital just before the half-hour mark, the Foxes will have retained confidence in their ability to get back into the contest at London Stadium with two thirds of the encounter remaining.

However, Jesse Lingard's second strike of the afternoon, just before half-time, changed the complexion of a hitherto tight clash. Although Leicester fought back in the latter moments in London, much of the damage was done in the first half. 

Who impressed?

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Marc Albrighton
Marc Albrighton

Winger Marc Albrighton goes close to getting the Foxes back into the game shortly after coming off the bench.

Former Leicester City midfielder Dean Hammond, speaking on LCFC Radio, said: "For the last 20 minutes of the game, they were brilliant. Marc Albrighton made a huge difference, he really did. That attacking threat, getting balls into the box, really helped, but West Ham just about got over the line."

Where do we stand?

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Brendan Rodgers
Brendan Rodgers

There are now just seven games remaining for Leicester in the Premier League this term.

The Foxes remain third in the Premier League on 56 points and with a goal difference of +18. Fourth-placed West Ham, meanwhile, now trail them by just a solitary point with seven matches to go.

Coming up…

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Jamie Vardy
Jamie Vardy

Jamie Vardy has a strike on goal, but Łukasz Fabiański is there to make the save.

Leicester City’s next outing takes them to Wembley Stadium to tackle Southampton in the semi-finals of the Emirates FA Cup on Sunday (6:30pm kick-off). They then welcome West Bromwich Albion to King Power Stadium in the Premier League on Thursday 22 April (8pm kick-off).

All times BST.

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