Late Leicester leveller secures dramatic point for Foxes after Hammers heroics
Holly Thackeray | April 17, 2016
Leicester City 2-2 West Ham United
- Kouyate header hits post in opening two minutes
- Leicester take lead around midway through firs-half through Vardy
- England forward Vardy then sent off after break with second yellow for simulation
- Vardy banned for next match with Swansea
- Carroll converts late penalty to level
- Creswell screamer shocked Foxes five minutes from time
- Home sub Ulloa steps up for stoppage time spot-kick to pinch point
Leicester comeback at King Power
Late drama unfolded as Leicester City hosted West Ham United, after the Foxes initially fired themselves ahead at home and one step closer to a historic Premier League title coup, before a red card, two penalties and late strike sandwiched in between turned the tussle chaotic.
Of course, it was Premier League Golden Boot contender Jamie Vardy that kept up the pressure on Harry Kane, with a fantastic opener worthy of three points. What was not part of the Foxes plan, however, was for their star man to see red in the second-half after a dive in the West Ham box.
Leicester’s lethal frontman will now miss the next match in this entertaining title race when the Midlands men next host Swansea City, but his absence almost proved most costly in this match, as the Hammers hit back late in the second-half through an Andy Carroll spot-kick and Aaron Cresswell cracker. Though the Foxes (now odds-on 1/5 favourites to win the Premier League with Coral) fought back to win a penalty of their own thanks to super sub Leonardo Ulloa to remain eight clear at the summit – edge of your seat stuff!
Foxes flash teeth after early scare
It was hardly the start Leicester fans hoped for, as the King Power Stadium appeared to collectively hold its breath, hearts in mouths, as always dangerous Dimitri Payet stepped up to take a set-piece within two minutes.
The Frenchman curled the ball dipping dangerously goalwards and Cheikhou Kouyate looked set to convert, his header ricocheting unluckily and rather incredibly off the inside of both posts, before Kasper Schmeichel smothered.
Pundits were quick to highlight this twist as one of fate in the Foxes’ favour, but Claudio Ranieri’s men proved shortly after that it is they, and they only, that will decide their future.
Robert Huth rose highest minutes later in the opposition area, sending out the first warning shot, but flashed his header wide of the Hammers net after a Marc Albrighton delivery. The former Aston Villa wingman could not have had a weekend in greater contrast to his old club, as the Englishman stands on the cusp of silverware at the same time Villa confirmed their relegation to the Championship.
A smart piece of silky Riyad Mahrez footwork then teed up Danny Drinkwater, but the recent England cap sent his strike rocketing over. It all began to look rather ominous for Slaven Bilic’s boys though…
Vicious Vardy strike sends King Power crazy
Ferocious tackles were flying in everywhere in this frenzied first 45, but it was Leicester that took the lead around 18 minutes into the match-up.
It was all too familiar as the Foxes’ most famous three combined through a counter, with Vardy finishing the swift move off to stun scrambling West Ham.
After penalty shouts at the other end, inspired Schemeichel sprung the attack with a long throw downfield to find Mahrez, who paused momentarily to pick out N’Golo Kante, with the fierce France midfielder characteristically driving from deep before simply sliding in Three Lion Vardy to lash lethally low and right past Adrian from an angle.
Vardy sees red for simulation
Bilic brought Carroll off the bench to challenge Ranieri’s aerially dominant rearguard after the break, and the English man threatened to have an immediate impact as he made his presence felt in an increasingly physical box battle.
It was Leicester that still looked most likely to be lethal though, as they strove for a second. A Mark Noble pass was picked off in midfield by diligent Drinkwater, though Japanese striker Shinji Okazaki’s weak cross-shot was just too far for on-rushing Vardy to stretch.
It proved to be one of the Englishman’s last actions, however, as after being slipped through on goal, the sprinting sharpshooter was adjudged to have gone to ground too easily against Angelo Ogbonna in the Irons’ area and saw he second yellow of the game. Heading off for an early bath, leaving his team with 10 men, was surely not part of Vardy’s Hollywood script…
The Hammers then attempted to turn the screw, with Winston Reid attempting an intuitive and acrobatic volley from a Payet cross, but captain Wes Morgan magnificently intercepted to keep his side ahead.
Carroll and Cresswell deliver Hammer blow
West Ham made use of their numerical advantage, but Leicester dug deep as they were penned in their own half, resisting rearguard challenges by Carroll and co who continue to push for a late leveller.
Repelling wave after wave of Irons’ attempts, having ceded possession to their guests, the Midlands men’s mettle was truly tested, but their resistance could not hold out forever.
A double Hammer blow hit Leicester within two minutes, delivered by internationally ignored Englishmen Carroll and Cresswell, as Morgan gave away a penalty for getting to up close and personal with opposite number Reid.
Carroll stepped up to convert in the 84th minute of action, sending Schmeichel completely the wrong way with his cool low finish and, just moments later, Leicester were seemingly sunk emphatically by compatriot Cresswell. Michail Antonio’s excellent delivery found his rampaging fellow full back, who lashed in a lethal long-range stunner, seemingly sinking Leicester at the last.
Fantastic Foxes finish
It was not to be West Ham’s day either in this exciting duel, as this breathtaking battle turned again in added time. Having had one penalty claim waved away, the Foxes were awarded the second, as Carroll turned from hero to villain in the blink of an eye.
The battering ram bungled a challenge on Jeff Schlupp in the box, and the Foxes showed their fighting spirit through super sub Ulloa, who shouldered the responsibility by dispatching the spot-kick past Adrian, with King Power sent into raptures. What a finish! Who ca stop Leicester now? Maybe they are lucky after all!