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West Ham United v Leicester City – Premier League – London Stadium – Report
West Ham United 4-1 Leicester City
It was the return they all dreamed of – those of a West Ham United persuasion, anyway. Some have doubted the London Stadium could rock in the same way as the old Boleyn Ground. Well, elevated by a simply majestic performance from their favourites, a significant marker in the short history of their newish home was not so much stuck as hammered into the ground
David Moyes named an unchanged starting line-up to the one which had twice come from behind to win at Newcastle United on the opening weekend of the season. A sense of occasion with a full house returning to the London Stadium wasn’t lost on the Scotsman: “We’ve got one of the biggest stadiums in the country and to get 60,000 back will be fantastic,” he enthused.
“We’re thrilled and I’m sure all the supporters will be glad to be back at it as well. I’m looking forward to getting them all in there.”
Indeed, it was an electric reception for the home side as the best part of eighteen months of frustration dissolved into a crescendo of noise. Said Benrahma looked to turn the notch up a few decibels – Kasper Schmielcel alert to the Algerians effort. Meanwhile, Declan Rice was too high as the Hammers provided the better of slim pickings during the game’s infancy.
Michail Antonio was off target after darting powerfully from deep, but midway through the opening period, the home side made the breakthrough Pablo Fornals supplied a neat, close-range finish – Benrahma fashioning the opening with a pinpoint cross from the left.
Tomas Soucek’s header wasn’t far away, while Craig Dawson was a whisker away from a telling contact with Jarrod Bowen’s flag-kick as the home side looked to build on gathered momentum.
Leicester’s evening wasn’t going well and VAR was about to provide them with another blow. Ayoze Pérez was dangerously high and late on goalscorer Fornals – Michael Oliver brandished a red card after being advised to have another look from Stockley Park.
Soucek prodded over following a terrific interchange between Vladimir Coufal and Bowen, then Schmeichel produced a wonderful save from Antonio’s thumping header as West Ham pressed immediately after the restart.
But you sensed another goal was on its way and ten minutes into the half it arrived. Antonio seized on Caglar Söyüncü’s woefully short backpass before teeing up Benrahma to slam home the Hammers second of the evening.
Schmeichel was at full-stretch to prevent Antonio from adding a third, while Aaron Cresswell’s fierce volley fizzed over. It was one-way traffic and the crowd were clearly delighted with what was before them.
But then a lifeline for the Foxes. A James Maddison centre wasn’t dealt with and Youri Tielemans poked past Lukasz Fabianski at the second attempt to set up a grandstand finale.
Nevertheless, West Ham was insistent that the bit was still firmly between their teeth. Antonio turned on Rice’s low centre – Schmeichel statuesque as the Hammers number nine thundered home his 48th Premier League goal in their colours.
The excited audience didn’t have too long to wait for number 49 – Antonio knocking past the stranded Schmeichel – His third of the season – Coufal the architect.
West Ham United return to Premier League action on Saturday, August 28 when Crystal Palace visit the London Stadium (3pm).
West Ham United: Lukasz Fabiański, Vladimir Coufal, Craig Dawson, Angelo Ogbonna, Aaron Cresswell, Declan Rice (Capt), Tomas Souček, Jarrod Bowen, Pablo Fornals, Said Benrahma (Mark Noble 88’), Michail Antonio (Andriy Yarmolenko 88’ Subs not used: Alphonse Areola (GK), Ben Johnson, Ryan Fredericks, Jamal Baptiste, Issa Diop, Conor Coventry, Manuel Lanzini,
Goals: Pablo Fornals 26’, Said Benrahma 55’, Michail Antonio 80’, 84’
Leicester City: Kasper Schmeichel (Capt), Ricardo Pereira, Caglar Söyüncü, Daniel Amartey, Luke Thomas, Youri Tielemans, Wilfred Ndidi, Harvey Barnes (Patson Daka 65’), James Maddison (Boubakary Soumaré 81’), Ayoze Pérez, Jamie Vardy (Kelchi Iheanacho 81’ Subs not used: Danny Ward (GK), Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, Timothy Castagne, Hamza Choudhury, Dennis Praet, Marc Albrighton
Booked: Ricardo Pereira (foul)
Sent-off: Ayoze Pérez (seriou foul play)
Goals: Youri Tielemans 70’
Referee: Michael Oliver
Assistants: Stuart Burt and Simon Bennett
Fourth Official: Graham Scott
VAR: Darren England
Assistants VAR: Daniel Robathan