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Jesse Lingard scores a brace before half-time, taking his tally to eight Premier League goals in nine West Ham appearances.
Leicester hurt by absence of James Maddison, Ayoze Perez and Hamza Choudhury - al three axed after they broke Covid restrictions
Gareth Southgate arrived at the London Stadium with the expectation of watching a thrilling contest between Jesse Lingard and James Maddison, two creative midfielders who have hopes of making his England squad, and a tight match between two teams with ambitions of qualifying for the Champions League.
For most of the afternoon, he got neither. The battle between Jesse Lingard and James Maddison never materialised, thanks to the Leicester City midfielder’s decision to breach Covid regulations. In his absence Leicester were largely unable to get close to a West Ham side that continues to punch so far above its weight.
Only in the final few minutes, when Kelechi Iheanacho created a sudden nervousness within the London Stadium by scoring two late goals, did Leicester look anything like Champions League contenders. They turned up too late, waiting too long to put West Ham under any sort of pressure, and they ultimately paid the price for their sluggishness.
What must Maddison have been thinking, watching from the naughty step at home as Lingard tore into Leicester’s defence with a devastating savagery? If the Leicester midfielder’s hopes of going to the European Championships were already slim, they must be almost non-existent now.
He certainly will not be picked ahead of Lingard. That much seems clear enough. West Ham’s creative leader is untouchable at the minute and, once again, it was he who made the difference for his new team. David Moyes has made so many terrific decisions this season but signing Lingard on loan must surely be the best of them. “I didn’t know Messi was born in Warrington,” tweeted Arthur Masuaku, Lingard’s team-mate.
Lingard’s two goals, and a third from Jarrod Bowen, moved West Ham back into the top four and put them just one point behind third-placed Leicester. Brendan Rodgers was unable to stop a late-season collapse last year, when Leicester fell out of the top four, and there must be growing fears that history is set to repeat itself in the coming weeks.
Without the axed trio of Maddison, Ayoze Perez and Hamza Choudhury, who broke Covid regulations by attending a party last week, the visitors lacked spark. They desperately missed Maddison’s range of passing, although this was far from being their only problem against a typically incisive West Ham, who keep winning despite injuries to Declan Rice and Michail Antonio.
“There is a real belief that we can go and win games,” said Moyes. “And we have got players who can do that. Jesse has been crucial. I didn’t expect him to get quite so many goals - long may it continue.”
The home side were solid at the back and creative in attack, and it took until the final 20 minutes for Leicester to make their presence felt. The last few moments were chaotic in the extreme but West Ham held on to ensure this was another good day for them, and indeed for Lingard.
The 28-year-old’s resurgence has been one of the stories of the season and there is an increasingly strong argument for him being the league’s best player since his move to London. In nine matches, he has scored eight goals and registered three assists.
Whatever he tries, it seems to work. Even when he does not connect with a shot as he intended, miscuing it from the edge of the box, it still swirls into the net. That was how he scored the opener here, after being picked out by Vladimir Coufal.
“It’s confidence and instinct,” Lingard said. “The lads battle on. There is a big belief in the team.”
West Ham’s fast-attacking approach has suited Lingard wonderfully. He looks much more comfortable in this setup than in the more patient system required at Manchester United, his parent club, and it was not long before he scored his second.
To the dismay of Rodgers, the visiting defence was undone by a simple pass over the top. Bowen was too quick, running in behind, and his squared pass allowed Lingard to roll the ball into the empty net.
“We were nowhere near our level,” said Rodgers of his team’s start.
For the visitors only Youri Tielemans looked capable of competing with the West Ham midfield, where Mark Noble was making his 400th Premier League appearance. Noble held his position as the rampaging Tomas Soucek charged forward and it was from one of these runs that Soucek created the third goal, a few minutes after the break. His pass allowed Bowen to rifle home a powerful finish from close range.
Leicester eventually woke up, with Iheanacho firing in from the edge of the box and then converting Marc Albrighton’s cross, but by then there was too much to do. West Ham, and Lingard in particular, had already done the damage and continued their improbable push for the Champions League.
West Ham survive to claim all three points after an enthralling final 15 minutes. That takes them back into fourth spot and suddenly it's all looking very, very tight for the Champions League spots. Four points separate Leicester in third and Liverpool in sixth, while Spurs are also still to play and could narrow the gap further.
It's just Leicester's second defeat on the road this season and they are fully in this fight. It's going to be an exhilarating race in the final seven games of the season!
90 + 5 mins West Ham 3 Leicester 2
Leicester are throwing everything at this, Ricardo dances through but is tackled at the last and its another corner. Fofana has a clear header but he steers it just past the post with the final act of a frenetic game!
90 + 4 mins West Ham 3 Leicester 2
It's suddenly panic stations at the back for West Ham. Thomas forces a Leicester corner, which goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel leaps for, but Dawson gets there first. David Moyes is spitting blood, he can't believe his side are collapsing again.
90 + 1 mins West Ham 3 Leicester 2
Masuaku goes into the book for time wasting. West Ham have threatened to throw away three goal leads a couple of times this season against Wolves and Arsenal. Could it be third time unlucky?
They couldn't could they?!?! Kelechi Iheanacho has turned a deflected Albrighton cross home. He didn't hesitate and smashed it into the corner. Five minutes left, could Leicester pull off a miracle?
90 mins West Ham 3 Leicester 1
Jarrod Bowen has pipped Jesse Lingard to the man of the match award, thanks to his goal and assist.
Six added minutes here.
88 mins West Ham 3 Leicester 1
Leicester are continuing huff and puff, particularly down the right, but West Ham's defence is holding strong and Dawson and Soucek are booming every Albrighton cross clear with their heads.
85 mins West Ham 3 Leicester 1
Another West Ham substitution, Jarrod Bowen's fine afternoon's work is complete, he's replaced by Said Benrahma
83 mins West Ham 3 Leicester 1
West Ham change, Mark Noble's 400th Premier League appearance comes to a premature end as he's replaced by Ben Johnson. Noble has been nursing his right arm since blocking that Tielemans shot and it's a sensible decision to replace him.
81 mins West Ham 3 Leicester 1
Delicious interplay between Ricardo and Tielemans ends with Ricardo clean through on goal. He takes an extra touch and Fabianski comes flying out to get a fingertip on the ball and push it off the full-back's toe. That was a chance
80 mins West Ham 3 Leicester 1
Here is that Iheanacho goal that has given Leicester a glimmer of hope heading into the last ten minutes.
77 mins West Ham 3 Leicester 1
Mark Noble is down injured after blocking a Tielemans shot.
The big talking point for Leicester has been the absence of James Maddison, Ayoze Perez and Hamza Choudhury. Our John Percy reports that the three were fit today, but were dropped due to breaching coronavirus protocols. You can read his full report here.
74 mins West Ham 3 Leicester 1
That goal has got Leicester's tail up, as they attack with Ricardo down the right, but Bowen steals and looks to counter. He's fouled by Ndidi and the midfielder is lucky to escape receiving a second yellow.
Rocket from Iheanacho! He's been Leicester's best player today and has his reward. Masuaka dawdles on the ball, and Ricardo gets a toe in. It falls to Iheanacho on the edge of the box, who takes a touch, spins and leathers it in the corner. Fabianski no chance. Game on?
68 mins West Ham 3 Leicester 0
West Ham have taken their foot off the gas ever so slightly with the press and Leicester have started putting some passes together, though they haven't yet threatened Fabianski's goal this half.
Albrighton has looked lively since he came on, crossing well from the right
65 mins West Ham 3 Leicester 0
Lingard whips a tempting cross in but Dawson's header goes straight up in the air and Schmeichel claims.
62 mins West Ham 3 Leicester 0
It seems as though that third goal has finally woken Leicester up. Iheanacho is starting to run at pace at the West Ham defence and it's causing small ripples of panic. Ndidi brings down a corner around the penalty spot but slices it high over the bar
59 mins West Ham 3 Leicester 0
Vardy goes down in the box off the ball holding his face, but VAR says no penalty. Marc Albrighton enters the fray, replacing Dennis Praet
57 mins West Ham 3 Leicester 0
Jarrod Bowen has swept West Ham further ahead. Take a look here:
55 mins West Ham 3 Leicester 0
A quick West Ham free kick catches Leicester cold. Lingard jinks in from the right and crosses to Diop who nods home, but he had strayed a yard offside
54 mins West Ham 3 Leicester 0
In fact, Cresswell isn't going to risk it. He's being replaced by Fabian Balbuena. If Cresswell has pulled his hamstring, which it looks like he has, then that could be curtains for his season. West Ham's injury list keeps growing, but it hasn't affected them so far today.
52 mins West Ham 3 Leicester 0
It's a disastrous start to the second half for Leicester, as they've conceded two goals in less than five minutes of game time.
Cresswell is down holding his hamstring but he's going to come back on and give it another go.
West Ham are in dream land!. Ndidi loses the ball in midfield and Lingard gets in behind. He finds Soucek, who draws out Evans before sliding in Bowen, who takes one touch before finishing cooly. The Champions Legaue beckons for East London!
47 mins West Ham 2 Leicester 0
Leicester have switched to a back four, with Thomas at left-back and Castagne on the right. Ricardo is now playing on the right side of midfield in a 4-4-2
A reckless Ndidi tackle lands him in Mike Dean's book.
46 mins West Ham 2 Leicester 0
We're back underway in London. One change for Leicester, Daniel Amartey is off, he is replaced by 19-year-old Luke Thomas. Here's Jesse Lingard's second for you to enjoy (if you're a West Ham fan).
Is he the greatest loan signing of all time? Two Jesse Lingard goals have West Ham ahead at the break and on course to return to the top four tonight. Leicester are lacking a creative edge and it's a long way back for them in the second half
45 mins West Ham 2 Leicester 0
Two added minutes on the the end of the first half
It's that man Lingard again! A long Diop ball goes over Fofana's head and Bowen plays a lovely first time ball square to Jesse Lingard. Schmeichel had come charging out and didn't get to the pass. It's the easiest finish Lingard could dream of and he sweeps home with aplomb. A VAR check confirms Bowen was onside and the Hammers are two to the good
43 mins West Ham 1 Leicester 0
Here's that Lingard goal. It's a delightful first time finish from a very confident man.
42 mins West Ham 1 Leicester 0
Leicester have done some of their best work down the right with Ricardo and Iheanacho as the half has progressed, but they've lacked the final incisive pass so far.
39 mins West Ham 1 Leicester 0
Some delightful interplay between Iheanacho and Tielemans ends with the Nigerian striker taking a shot, but it's well blocked by the Hammers defence.
The resulting corner is cleared by West Ham and they launch a rapid counter-attack, but Coufal picks the wrong pass and Lingard is forced into a scuffed shot. That was a great chance to make it 2-0.
36 mins West Ham 1 Leicester 0
Vardy heads down a header but Dawson reads it well and beats Iheanacho to the second ball. The Foxes are lacking a little creativity, Maddison is a big miss today.
33 mins West Ham 1 Leicester 0
Ricardo is booked for bringing down Fornals.
32 mins West Ham 1 Leicester 0
That goal was Lingard's seventh in nine Premier League matches since joining the Hammers on loan, with today's coming in front of a watching Gareth Southgate. Sign him up!
The Manchester United man refuses to give up on the press and rushes Schmeichel into a wild hack out for a throw.
30 mins West Ham 1 Leicester 0
Cresswell goes into the book for a wild lunge on Iheanacho
Who else but Jesse Lingard? The loanee has scored AGAIN. A Masuaku cross evades everyone after some lovely skill, but it's recycled by Coufal, who picks out Lingard on the edge of the box. The in-form man strikes it first time on the half volley and bends it round the inside of the post. Confident finish, Schmeichel didn't move.
27 mins West Ham 0 Leicester 0
Bit of a cagey defensive opening half hour or so here, no clear cut chances for either side. Both teams look very well drilled defensively
24 mins West Ham 0 Leicester 0
Tielemans carries down the right before finding Vardy on the edge of the box. He spins and shoots, but doesn't catch it properly and it rolls harmlessly through to Fabianski.
21 mins West Ham 0 Leicester 0
A deep Masuaka cross just eludes Bowen's toe and the outstretched striker clatters into the post.
19 mins West Ham 0 Leicester 0
The Tielemans corner is deep over everyone's head and West Ham clear.
18 mins West Ham 0 Leicester 0
Castagne and Praet showing good understanding down the left and the midfielder earns a Leicester corner.
15 mins West Ham 0 Leicester 0
Castagne runs in behind after some neat interplay with Praet, but the Belgian's through ball is intercepted by an onrushing Fabianski
13 mins West Ham 0 Leicester 0
Leicester are trying to build patiently through Evans and and Amartey, but Fornals is stay tight to Tielemans to take away the outlet pass into midfield. Tactically astute from West Ham so far
10 mins West Ham 0 Leicester 0
Soucek mistimes a slightly wild tackle on Tielemans and goes into the book
8 mins West Ham 0 Leicester 0
Iheanacho gets in behind Cresswell after the left-back misjudges a header. The Nigerian slashes at the ball first time but balloons it over the bar.
7 mins West Ham 0 Leicester 0
West Ham have started the match on the front foot, pressing the Leicester defensive line with intent as they look to build from the back.
4 mins West Ham 0 Leicester 0
Iheanacho takes a pot shot from range that is easily gathered by Fabianski.
2 mins West Ham 0 Leicester 0
Leicester setting up in a 5-3-2 to start with and West Ham look to be matching them.
Early free kick for West Ham down the right hand channel and Jarrod Bowen delivers, but Jonny Evans heads clear.
After a moment of silence to honour the Duke of Edinburgh, it's Jamie Vardy to get things underway this afternoon!
5 minutes to kick off...
...here come the players!
'We're playing the game, not the occasion' - Kasper Schmeichel
Mark Noble 'embracing' the pressure of the top four hunt
Two changes for Leicester
Brendan Rodgers makes two changes to the side that lost 2-0 to league leaders Manchester City last weekend. Praet and Ricardo come in for Perez and Albrighton. The in-form Kelechi Iheanacho will partner Jamie Vardy up top once again.
Jarrod Bowen leads the line for West Ham
The teams are in and David Moyes has gone for an attacking 4-3-3. Jarrod Bowen will lead the line, flanked by Pablo Fornals and the red-hot Jesse Lingard. Mark Noble will anchor the midfield with Tomas Soucek, while the back four remains unchanged.
Super Sunday continues from the London Stadium as West Ham prepare to welcome Leicester in a crunch match in the pursuit of the top four.
Following victories for Chelsea and Liverpool last night, both sides will sense they have to win to stay on course to qualify for Champions League football next season.
The hosts are having a remarkable season, and manager David Moyes is having somewhat of a career renaissance. A win today would see them climb above Chelsea and into fourth spot, just a point behind Leicester in third with seven games left in this season.
If the visitors claim a victory this afternoon, that would cement them firmly in third place and extend the gap to Chelsea in fourth to five points.
West Ham are suffering somewhat of an injury crisis, with star men Declan Rice and Michail Antonio in the treatment room and unavailable for this match. Rice is expected to be out for another three weeks after picking up a knee injury while away on international duty, while Antonio aggravated his hamstring in the win over Wolves on Monday night. He could be out for four to six weeks, which at this late stage, would equate to the rest of the season.
For the visitors, Harvey Barnes remains sidelined with a knee injury, although Brendan Rodgers will hope to have him back available for selection in the next fortnight. Centre-back Caglar Soyuncu has not returned from international duty, as he returned a positive test for Covid-19 while away and so remains in quarantine in Turkey.
The Foxes will look to continue their unbeaten run at the London stadium, having never lost there. They have won two of the four games they have played in West Ham’s still somewhat new home. The Hammers have somewhat of a rotten recent record against Leicester, winning just two of the last 13, although they did win the reverse fixture 3-0, thanks to goals from Antonio, Fornals and Bowen.