West Ham pegged back twice as Leicester earn a late draw
PUBLISHED: 17:08 20 April 2019 | UPDATED: 17:08 20 April 2019
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The Hammers led twice through Antonio and Perez but it was not enough to take all three Premier League points
West Ham United 2 Leicester City 2
The Hammers had the rug pulled from underneath their feet on the day when they unveiled their new claret pitch surround.
After waiting nearly three years for delivery, West Ham United finally saw the London Stadium become just a little bit more like home with that new carpet but their hopes of a wall-to-wall win were dashed in stoppage time by substitute Harvey Barnes' last-gasp equaliser.
The recalled Michail Antonio headed the Hammers into an interval lead with his sixth-goal of the season before Jamie Vardy levelled with his eighth strike in as many games midway through the second period.
But within just four minutes of his arrival, Lucas Pérez pounced after fellow substitute Pedro Obiang's shot bounced back off the post but just when the Spaniard thought he had secured a valuable victory, Barnes popped in the final moments to leave both sides settling for a draw.
Last week's controversial defeat at Old Trafford had made it a hat-trick of straight defeats for the Hammers and, following that loss against Manchester United, Manuel Pellegrini made two enforced changes as Antonio and the fit-again Marco Arnautović returned in place of Manuel Lanzini (groin) and Javier Hernández (ear), while Jack Wilshere made a return to the bench and, later, an equally welcome cameo appearance.
The reverse fixture in October was, of course, overshadowed by the tragic, post-match helicopter accident that claimed the lives of Foxes owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha and four others and both sets of supporters had come together before kick-off to remember that awful loss with a few moments applause.
After Arnautović had christened that carpet with a wayward, low, early shot that rolled harmlessly wide, James Maddison replied with a 20-yarder that sent Lukasz Fabianski into a low save.
And with the Hammers forcing a trio of quick corners those fans were soon witnessing an end-to-end encounter in the Easter sunshine as West Ham looked to get back to winning ways, while City set about preserving their seventh-spot in the league.
Defeat at the hands of Newcastle United last Friday evening had ended the Foxes four-fixture winning run and kicking off four places and five points above the Hammers, Leicester had also made a couple of switches as Jonny Evans and fit-again Marc Albrighton came in for Wes Morgan and substitute Barnes.
Midway through the opening period, Albrighton – making his first start since late-January – sent over a low right-wing cross that Fabianski plucked off the studs of the inrushing Vardy, while at the other end, Arnautović swept in a low ball for the sliding Antonio but Kasper Schmeichel held the looping effort under his crossbar.
Certainly, the Hammers were creating most chances but, equally, the Foxes threatened on the break and, on the half-hour, Maddison again tried his luck from distance and, once again, Fabianski got down to save.
Antonio then diverted wide to the relief of Schmeichel after Robert Snodgrass and Felipe Anderson had combined to create the opening.
But it would prove third time lucky for the recalled Hammer in the 37th-minute, when skipper Mark Noble lofted an inch-perfect, left-wing cross into the danger-zone, where Antonio outjumped Ben Chilwell to send an unstoppable header past Schmeichel before cheekily heading off and making himself at home with a crafty lie-down on that new London Stadium carpet.
With a one-match suspension already hanging over him for an alleged run-in with anti-doping officials, Snodgrass collected his fourth booking of the season for upending Albrighton just after the interval.
On the hour, Albrighton retired to be replaced by Barnes and, within seven minutes of that switch, the Foxes drew level when the overlapping Chilwell drilled in a low left-wing cross that saw Vardy scoot in front of Fabián Balbuena and prod inside the right-hand upright from six yards to claim his 16th goal of the campaign.
Suddenly, the Hammers were on the back foot and, after Declan Rice was booked for felling Youri Tielemans, Snodgrass was replaced by Obiang, who soon saw Vardy rifle another angled effort across the face of goal.
On 78 minutes, Pérez stepped from the bench as Arnautović retired to a mixed reception and he wasted no time in making his mark.
After patiently finding Antonio on the edge of the Leicester penalty area, the Spaniard then saw Anderson collect and lay the ball back into the path of Obiang, whose low 20-yarder cannoned back off the base of Schmeichel's left-hand upright.
With the Danish 'keeper still stunned by that shot, Pérez reacted first to race in and tap the rebound into the net from eight yards.
But just when the Hammers thought they had returned to those winning ways, Tielemans produced a slide-rule pass into the West Ham area, where Barnes swept a low, angled, 12-yard shot across the face of Fabianski and into the far corner to snatch a late, late leveller for the visitors.
HAMMERS: Fabianski, Zabaleta, Masuaku, Ogbonna, Balbuena, Rice, Noble (Wilshere 85), Antonio, Anderson, Snodgrass (Obiang 73), Arnautović (Pérez 78). Unused subs: Adrián, Diop, Fredericks, Diangana.
FOXES: Schmeichel, Perreira, Chilwell, Evans, Maguire, Ndidi, Gray (Iheanacho 84), Tielemans (Mendy 90+3), Maddison, Albrighton (Barnes 64), Vardy. Unused subs: Ward, Söyüncü, , Okazaki, Fuchs.
Booked: Snodgrasss (49), Rice (69).
Referee: Lee Probert.