Tuesday 23 January 2018

Rejuvenated Foxes extend Shakespeare honeymoon

West Ham United 2 Leicester City 3

Leicester City's Marc Albrighton (left) and West Ham United's Sam Byram battle for the ball during the Premier League match at London Stadium. Photo: Adam Davy/PA
Leicester City's Marc Albrighton (left) and West Ham United's Sam Byram battle for the ball during the Premier League match at London Stadium. Photo: Adam Davy/PA
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Craig Shakespeare insisted he has no secret formula despite guiding Leicester to a fourth straight win as the Foxes also finally collected their first Premier League away victory of the season.

Riyad Mahrez, Robert Huth and Jamie Vardy - three of the main protagonists of last season's title triumph - hit first-half goals as Leicester showed no signs of a European hangover following their impressive win over Sevilla.

West Ham United's Cheikhou Kouyate in action with Leicester City's Shinji Okazaki. Photo: John Sibley/Reuters
West Ham United's Cheikhou Kouyate in action with Leicester City's Shinji Okazaki. Photo: John Sibley/Reuters

And although they may have a Champions League quarter-final meeting with Atletico Madrid on their minds, Shakespeare has ensured that they get their domestic affairs in order first.

"There is no secret, just hard work, endeavour and resilience, and we showed that today," he said. "We said once the Champions League draw was made let's concentrate on the Premier League. It's been put to one side, we've parked it. We knew we were coming here on the back of an awful away record and we wanted to put it right."

Leicester have been rejuvenated under Shakespeare following Claudio Ranieri's sacking last month, the first half was once again a throwback to last season's flying Foxes.

West Ham simply could not cope with the pace and before they knew it the hosts were 2-0 down. In the fifth minute Mahrez swung in a cross towards Vardy and Shinji Okazaki, but both forwards missed it, as did West Ham's defence, as the ball flew into the corner of the net.

Leicester City's Kasper Schmeichel celebrates at the end of the match. Photo: John Sibley/Reuters
Leicester City's Kasper Schmeichel celebrates at the end of the match. Photo: John Sibley/Reuters

Two minutes later, from a free-kick, Marc Albrighton clipped the ball into the box with the outside of his boot and the unmarked Huth nodded in the second.

West Ham grabbed a lifeline when Manuel Lanzini curled in a 20-yard free-kick, but Vardy restored Leicester's two-goal lead before half-time when he pounced on the loose ball at a corner.

The Hammers pulled another back when Andy Carroll's header was turned in by Andre Ayew with 30 minutes remaining. But record signing Ayew squandered a glorious chance to level while Kasper Schmeichel twice kept Carroll at bay, the second with a save reminiscent of father Peter from point-blank range in stoppage time.

"That was very important, they were pivotal saves," added Shakespeare. "I think he's in the best form since I've been here. He's pulled out some crucial saves over the last couple of weeks."

The problems are piling up for West Ham manager Slaven Bilic, whose side have lost their last three matches and could yet find themselves in the relegation scrap.

"I'm very disappointed and very frustrated," he said. "We knew they had momentum, we knew they are a good side who have underachieved this season, but they scored three goals in the first half and it wasn't from chances they created.

"The first was very sloppy from us and then two set-pieces which we know they are good at - we can't concede goals like that.

"Then the last half an hour was probably our best of the season, but the ball just didn't want to go in. I think we deserved at least a point."

Bilic also revealed that winger Michail Antonio is likely to be withdrawn from the England squad due to a hamstring problem.

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