West Ham slip to narrow defeat at champions Leicester City
PUBLISHED: 17:00 31 December 2016 | UPDATED: 18:22 31 December 2016
PA Wire/PA Images
The Hammers had their chances but their excellent run of winning form came to an end at the King Power Stadium
Leicester City 1 West Ham United 0
West Ham’s excellent run of three consecutive wins came to an end at champions Leicester City, but they can count themselves slightly unlucky as they went so close to grabbing at least a point from this game.
Sloppy defending allowed Islam Slimani to score what proved the winner in the first half, but the Hammers dominated after the break and should have taken advantage of the chances they carved out to earn something from the match.
Hammers boss Slaven Bilic stuck with the same team that had battered Swansea City 4-1 on Boxing Day, with Pedro Obiang, back from suspension and Manuel Lanzini back from injury both taking their place on the bench.
But it was the chanpions who started the brighter. Having lost at home to Everton on Boxing Day, they were keen to put that right and carved out two early chances.
First Riyad Mahrez got on the end of a cross to shoot, only for Darren Randolph to push the ball over the top and then a couple of minutes later, Marc Albrighton crossed to the far post for Islam Slimani whose header came off the outside of the post.
West Ham rode that storm and went close themselves when Aaron Cresswell swung in a superb cross which beat three defenders and fell for Michail Antonio at the far post, only for his effort to fly over the bar.
But the pressure was soon back on to the West Ham defence with Havard Nordtveit in particular having a tough time at right back.
On 20 minutes the champions broke the deadlock. Albrighton got down the right again and this time his cross picked out a more central Slimani who headed firmly past Randolph to make it 1-0.
Leicester could have added to that tally with shots by Slimani and Demarai Gray blocked, while at the other end, Antonio did get beyond the full-back to cross for Andy Carroll, but the nig man did not the best of connections.
West Ham went even closer on 37 minutes. Payet’s shot at the far post was saved and an almighty scramble ensued which saw Ayew and Mark Noble both fail to put the ball over the line.
With five minutes to go until half time, West Ham were certainly making inroads into the Leicester defence and after Antonio had shot straight at Kasper Schmeichel, he then went even closer as he efforts smashed against the woodwork.
In first-half injury time both teams came close to scoring. First Payet was fouled by Robert Huth just outside the box and his free kick was superbly saved by Schemeichel and from the ensuing break, Angelo Ogbonna was booked for a foul on Gray and from the resulting free kick, Mahrez brought out an excellent save from Randolph.
West Ham looked to push on after the break and with Leicester looking a little nervous, it was the visitors who began to press without really testing the keeper.
Bilic threw on Manuel Lanzini for the hobbling Noble and he almost immediately put in Carroll with a long pass which was hastily cleared by Huth.
Aaron Cresswell was denied by a smart save after his low free kick was deflected towards the far corner, while Cheikhou Kouyate also went close as West Ham began to put the pressure on.
It was certainly an end-to-end finish as Payet forced an easy save, while at the other end, Gray shot over the bar as Leicester broke away.
Cresswell then delivered a superb cross to the head of Carroll, but the bug man put his effort inches wide as time ran out for the Hammers.
It was Leicester who almost had the final word as Ben Chilwell broke into the box ajnd let fly only for first Carroll and then Randolph to foil his effort.
In the end, West Ham simply ran out of steam and they must now turn their attention to Monday’s home clash with Manchester United.
West Ham United: Randolph, Nordtveit. Reid, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Kouyate (Fernandes 78), Noble (Lanzini 57); Antonio, Payet, Ayew (Feghouli 65) ; Carroll.
Unused subs: Adrian, Obiang, Fletcher.
Booked: Ogbonna, Nordtveit, Lanzini.
Referee: Anthony Taylor.
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