Goals from Demarai Gray and Kelechi Ihenacho see Leicester ease past West Ham

Tom HomewoodAssistant Producer

Leicester consolidated their place in second in the Premier League with a comfortable 2-1 win over West Ham at the London Stadium.

Lukasz Fabianski, who returned after three months out with a hip injury, saved a Demarai Gray penalty to deny Leicester the lead after ten minutes.

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Kelechi Ihenacho headed the visitors into the lead half-an-hour later but Pablo Fornals hit back almost immediately to pull West Ham level before the break.

Gray made up for his earlier miss from the penalty spot and put the Foxes back in front 10 minutes after the restart, and West Ham offered very little in the form of a comeback as the visitors eased to three points on the road.

Leicester remain second but move to within ten points of leaders Liverpool and four points ahead of Manchester City in third. West Ham stay 17th, a point above the relegation zone.

Fornals celebrates pulling West Ham level (Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images)
Fornals celebrates pulling West Ham level (Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images)

Manuel Pellegrini made seven changes to his side ahead of kick-off, with Lukasz Fabianski making a welcome return in goal for the Hammers after three months out with a hip injury.

Fabian Balbuena, Declan Rice, Pablo Fornals and Sebastien Haller kept their places from their Boxing Day loss at Crystal Palace.

Brendan Rodgers made nine changes from their defeat against Liverpool two days ago, with only keeper Kasper Schmeichel and defender Jonny Evans keeping their places.

Jamie Vardy, who has 17 goals already this season, was left out of the squad after the birth of his third child.

The away side found themselves with a chance to take the lead after ten minutes when Fabianski came out to stop Kelechi Ihenacho who was through on goal, but absolutely flattened him and the referee pointed to the penalty spot.

The Polish keeper redeemed himself though with what was a comfortable save from Demarai Gray’s tame effort.

Fabianski makes the save from Gray's penalty (Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images)
Fabianski makes the save from Gray's penalty (Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images)

After a lull in play Arthur Masuaku tried his luck from distance for the home side letting fly from 20-yards out, he struck it well and it needed a decent save from Kasper Schmeichel to deny him.

Leicester took the lead five minutes before the break through Iheanacho.

James Justin crossed to the far post where Ayoze Perez nodded it back in for the former Manchester City striker to head home from a few yards out.

West Ham hit back just five minutes later. Ryan Fredericks found Felipe Anderson down the right, he squared it to Pablo Fornals, who all alone on the penalty spot, smashed into the bottom corner to make it 1-1 on the stroke of half time.

Iheanacho celebrates scoring the opener (Photo by Nigel French/EMPICS/PA Images via Getty Images)
Iheanacho celebrates scoring the opener (Photo by Nigel French/EMPICS/PA Images via Getty Images)

Leicester retook the lead after the restart with Gray making up for his earlier penalty miss.

Perez ran through the midfield far too easily, wrestled past Issa Diop and released Gray who clipped past Fabianski and into the net.

Both Wes Morgan and substitute James Maddison took advantage of West Ham’s lack of shape not long after going back in front.

First Morgan knocked the ball over his head and hit a volley straight at Fabianski, before Maddison seemed to just walk through holes in the Hammers midfield.

They had the chance to wrap it up in the final minutes of the match but Hamza Choudhury scuffed his shot at the end of another clinical counter.

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