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Leicester City punish West Ham



WEST Ham remain perilously placed above the relegation zone thanks to goal difference alone after a desperate first half left them with far too much to do against Leicester City.

  A slow and sloppy first 45 minutes from the Hammers saw goals from Harvey Barnes and Ricardo Pereira set Brendan Rodgers side in the driving seat.

  While Michail Antonio’s introduction at the break – as well as a Mark Noble penalty – giving West Ham hope of a revival, Ayoze Perez converted from 12 yards inside the final ten minutes to seal the three points before adding the Foxes’s fourth minutes later.

  The Foxes started brightly, looking to put back-to-back home League defeats behind them, Jamie Vardy testing Darren Randolph inside five minutes.

  West Ham were struggling to get out of their own half and when they did Frenchman Sebastian Haller was outmuscled by Caglar Soyuncu each and every time. The hosts had the Hammers pinned back, edging further and further towards their own goal.

  Eventually the probing paid off, Barnes picking up the ball on the edge of the penalty area, flicking the ball forward to Pereira who could have shot himself but opted instead to square for Barnes, who had slipped through the entire West Ham defence. The Leicester winger tapped his second goal in as many games into an empty net.

  West Ham’s plan was to hit the Foxes on the break, but with a front three of Manuel Lanzini, Robert Snodgrass and Haller, they simply didn’t have the pace to trouble the home back line.

  Moyes’s side were labouring towards the break, hoping to get in and plot a path back into the game, only for the Foxes to compound their misery.

  The Hammers were tame in their attempt to clear, allowing Perez to play in Barnes down the left, the winger darting in and returning the favour for Pereira, sending a low cross the width of the area where it was met by a fierce drive into the far corner by the Portuguese.

  Moyes didn’t wait any longer to address the glaring problems with his side. He sent on Michail Antonio and Pablo Fornals at the break, ditching his back three in the process.    

  Antonio made an instant impact, finally offering the Hammers a physical presence in the front line, shrugging off Soyuncu as he played a one-two with Haller and firing over.

 The visitors were offered a perfect start to the second half moments later when Wilfried Ndidi – on as a first half change in place of the injured Nampalys Mendy, clashed with Haller just inside the penalty box and referee David Coote pointed straight to the spot. The video assistant referee checked the decision – a very soft one – and allowed it to stand, Noble sending Kasper Schmeichel the wrong way and converting.

  West Ham were far more of a threat with Antonio on the pitch, the forward giving Haller a lesson in leading the line.

  The visitors were more troublesome, but Leicester still dictated things, Antonio can’t do everything. Perez forced a smart save from Randolph before the Irish keeper – brought back to the club this month – pulled of a stunning diving stop to deny James Maddison from range.

  Leicester were building a head of steam again, and when Kelechi Iheanacho burst through and was brought down by Angelo Ogbonna, any hope of a revival was killed off. Perez finished smartly from the spot and wrapped things up before adding his second of the game two minutes from time.

  West Ham had offered to make a game of things – but with four points from a possible 12 since his return, Moyes remains with more questions than answers

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