Craig Shakespeare's perfect run goes on as Leicester resurgence continues with win at West Ham

Jon West
The Independent
Jamie Vardy scored what turned out to be the winner for the Foxes: Getty
Jamie Vardy scored what turned out to be the winner for the Foxes: Getty

William Shakespeare made many a stirring tale even better and so it is proving with his namesake Craig at Leicester City, who have now won each of the four games under his command since the controversial sacking of Claudio Ranieri last month.

Home victories over Liverpool and Hull in the Premier League and the night to remember against Sevilla in the Champions League have now seen a long-awaited first league victory away from the King Power Stadium added to his list of achievements. No previous Premier League manager has begun with three wins with three goals each.

First half goals from Riyad Mahrez, Robert Huth and Jamie Vardy turned out to be just enough, although the reviving champions had to survive a second-half barrage from the hosts, who saw first Manuel Lanzini and then Andre Ayew score to put them back in contention.

Mahrez put Leicester in front (Getty)
Mahrez put Leicester in front (Getty)

"There's no secret," Shakespeare said of the upturn in fortunes in his brief reign. "Hard work, endeavour, resilience - we showed all them today aligned with some good football. We scored the goals at the right time, they gave us a foothold in the game but we know that hard work is paramount to success and we have to keep on doing that.

"We spoke about the importance of starting brightly and playing on the front foot if we could, very similar to the other night, but we had to show real resilience in the second half, we have to give West Ham credit, they really pinned us back."

The conquerors of Sevilla were forced into a pre-match change as a back injury sufered by captain Wes Morgan ended an 87-game Premier League run. Goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel took the armband with little-used Tunisian Yohan Benalouane replacing Morgan in defence for a first Premier League start.

West Ham were also without their captain, with Mark Noble ruled out with a dead leg at a time when many Hammers fans have been branding him a dead loss for his performances this term.

Huth's header doubled Leicester's advantage (Getty)
Huth's header doubled Leicester's advantage (Getty)

Michail Antonio, included in Gareth Southgate's England squad but now likely to have to drop out because of a hamstring injury, cut inside from the left to fire the game's first shot over Schmeichel's crossbar.

The first effort on target, in the fifth minute, ended up in the net at the other end, though it looked as though Mahrez was attempting to find the head of Vardy, who had given him the ball on the right flank, or Shinji Okazaki.

His delivery found neither but instead bounced beyond the reach of home goalkeeper Darren Randolph.

That may have been a fluke but Leicester's response was to double their lead from the very next attack using nothing but guile. A free-kick move saw Marc Albrighton flick the ball up with the outside of his boot for Huth to head past Randolph from seven yards.

West Ham's day took another turn for the worst when Winston Reid, the acting captain, fell awkwardly and had to be replaced by Robert Snodgrass in the 18th minute, with Cheikhou Kouyate dropping into defence.

Lanzini pulled one back with an exquisite free-kick (Getty)
Lanzini pulled one back with an exquisite free-kick (Getty)

Home hopes were instantly raised when Danny Drinkwater scythed Antonio down 25 yards in front of goal and Lanzini's gem of a 19th-minute free-kick over the wall found the top corner. Schmeichel didn't even move.

The Hammers were roused and Ayew fired only just wide before Andy Carroll put the ball in the Leicester net. A flag catching Antonio offside had already been raised though so the half-hour mark passed with no further addition to the scoreline.

Snodgrass and Ayew got in each other's way meeting a cross from the left and another from the same side, delivered by Carroll, saw Antonio head wide on the stretch.

Terrible defending allowed Leicester to restore their two-goal lead in the 38th minute however, with Albrighton's corner being allowed to find Vardy in front of goal and the England striker lost no time in firing high past Randolph on the turn.

Vardy restored Leicester's two-gal advantage (Getty)
Vardy restored Leicester's two-gal advantage (Getty)

Drinkwater was booked asfter the break before Vardy missed a great chance to make it 4-1. Mahrez's ball gave him the opportunity to shoot on the left of the box as Randolph came out but his chip cleared the crossbar.

He was left to rue that miss as West Ham again hauled themselves back into the game and once more Lanzini was the inspiration with a long-range free-kick that Schmeichel dived to divert behind for a corner, even though it was actually going wide. The corner was headed back across goal by Carroll for Ayew to head through Schmeichel from inside the six-yard box. Game on once again.

Leicester found themselves pegged back and Schmeichel had to bat a Carroll header off his line.

Ayew should have made it 3-3 when set up by Antonio as the flag stayed down but the Hammers record signing blasted wastefully over.

Ayew gave West Ham hope late on (Getty)
Ayew gave West Ham hope late on (Getty)

Leicester were hanging on grimly and had Huth to thank for blocking Kouyate's goal-bound effort in a mad scramble.

Six minutes of added time ensured the Hammers would have at least one great chance to level and so it proved when Snodgrass's free-kick was deflected into Carroll's path only for Schmeichel to pull off a superb reflex stop.

Sub Slimani had a chance to wrap up victory straight after on the counter but Randolph was able to block.

"In the second half it was all positive and I only had to ask the players why we had to go behind," said West Ham manager Slaven Bilic. "The second half was our best performance this season but the ball just didn't want to go in.

"I really think we deserved at least a point - we created enough chances. Their keeper made amazing saves, from Andy Carroll with the header and that last one."

West Ham (4-2-3-1): Randolph; Byram, Fonte, Reid (Snodgrass 18), Cresswell (Masuaku 73); Obiang (Fernandes 67), Kouyate; Ayew, Lanzini, Antonio; Carroll. Subs (not used): Adrian, Collins, Nordtveit, Feghouli.

Leicester City (4-4-1-1): Schmeichel; Simpson, Huth, Benalouane, Fuchs; Mahrez (Chilwell 87), Ndidi, Drinkwater, Albrighton; Okazaki (Musa 76); Vardy (Slimani 76). Subs (not used): Zieler, King, Amartey, Gray.

Referee: Roger East

What to read next