Ayoze Péreze nets a brace as Leicester return to winning ways

Mark Noble’s penalty gave visitors some hope but Brendan Rodgers’ side looked back to their best

Ayoze Pérez of Leicester City celebrates with teammate James Maddison after scoring his team’s fourth goal during the Premier League win against West Ham United. Photo: Michael Regan/Getty Images

Ayoze Pérez of Leicester City celebrates with teammate James Maddison after scoring his team’s fourth goal during the Premier League win against West Ham United. Photo: Michael Regan/Getty Images

 

Leicester City 4 West Ham United 1

Leicester got back their mojo but lost their talisman, as Jamie Vardy limped off here with a suspected hamstring injury. That did not matter against a dishevelled West Ham, as Brendan Rodgers’s side strutted to their first league win since New Year’s Day thanks to two goals by Ayoze Pérez and one each by Harvey Barnes and Ricardo Pereira. Leicester’s top-four credentials look good again.

A successful penalty by Mark Noble gave West Ham fleeting hope of scrounging a point but ultimately the visitors left with what they deserved, which was nothing other than a reminder that they need to get their act together quickly if they are to avoid being overtaken by at least one of only three teams below them in the league.

When these clubs met in London less than a month ago, the difference between them seemed stark: Leicester looked like groovy young things on the up while West Ham were incorrigible clowns in a rut and their manager, Manuel Pellegrini, was put out of their misery soon afterwards. But since that Leicester victory, the clubs’ results have been strangely similar and both have lost ground in the league. For Leicester that meant dropping further off the pace in the title race, for West Ham it mean sinking perilously close to the bottom three. This was a chance for one team to start heading back in the right direction.

Brendan Rodgers made two alterations to the lineup that began Sunday’s loss to Burnley, with Ben Chilwell and Youri Tielemans coming back into the side. Wilfried Ndidi’s amazingly fast recovery from knee surgery was confirmed by his presence on the bench. He soon joined the action, as Nampalys Mendy hobbled off with knee trouble just after the half-hour.

Leicester were already a goal up by then thanks to a fast start in which they fizzed with the intensity they had lacked in recent games. Vardy fired off the first shot in the fourth minute after a lovely one-two with Barnes – facilitated by a nice dummy by James Maddison – but the striker’s shot was too close to Darren Randolph, who saved easily. The home side were given the run of the place for the next 10 minutes but precision eluded them when they reached the box, where attackers were usually far outnumbered by players in claret and blue.

West Ham, meanwhile, did not even hint at a threat until two minutes later, when they cobbled together a move that ended with Robert Snodgrass having a shot deflected wide from 20 yards. That was their only shot of the first half and Leicester were quick to re-establish control after that affront.

Soon they took the lead. Barnes created and scored the goal, receiving the ball at the edge of the D before playing a well disguised short pass to Pereira and dashing towards the six-yard box in the hope of getting a return pass. Pereira’s dink over the advancing Randolph might have reached the net without assistance, but Barnes prodded the ball over the line just to make sure, claiming his third goal in four matches.

West Ham’s immediate response was minimal. Their guileless play suggested they would only get back into this game if Leicester lapsed into complacency or if their whole team were struck down by injuries.

Vardy, as it happened, soon had to limp off with suspected hamstring damage. But Leicester increased their lead before the break, Barnes scampering down the left before pulling back a cross for Pereira, who drove a fierce shot into the bottom corner from 15 yards.

Moyes made a double substitution at half-time but the visitors needed an intervention from the referee to make a breakthrough. In the 48th minute, West Ham were awarded a penalty when Ndidi and Sébastien Haller made a wholesome challenge for the ball and the striker fell to the ground. VAR upheld the decision, reinforcing the impression that any kind of contact is liable to result in someone being punished. Noble applied dubious justice from the spot.

At least something akin to a contest then broke out. Briefly. After moderate pressure from the visitors, Leicester roared back. Tielemans, Barnes and Maddison all went close before Ogbonna brought down Kelechi Iheanacho in the 79th minute. Ayoze Pérez converted the penalty, and doubled his tally stylishly two minutes from time. – Guardian

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