Unbeaten run ends with Foxes defeat
By Tom Dowsett
Sunday 01 Jan 2017 12:04:00
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West Ham United were hoping to end 2016 on a high with a fourth consecutive win but they fell just short as they lost 1-0 to reigning Premier League Champions Leicester City at the King Power Stadium on New Year's Eve.

After winning their last game at Swansea City on Boxing Day, Slaven Bilic decided against restoring Pedro Obiang and Manuel Lanzini to the starting line-up, as he named an unchanged side.

Claudio Ranieri's men were keen to end an incredible year with three points and could have edged ahead after just 70 seconds when Riyad Marhrez collected Demarai Gray's pass and tested goalkeeper Darren Randolph, but the Irishman was equal to the effort.

West Ham were again lucky not to be behind when Marc Albrighton's cross was met by Islam Slimani's header and the effort came back off the post.

Shortly after Michail Antonio had fired over from Aaron Cresswell's cross, the same pair combined to put the home side in front after just 20 minutes.

Angelo Ogbonna's blushes were spared just three minutes later when Randolph reacted quickest after he had flicked on Gray's cross.

The Hammers then found their way into the game but couldn't break down Leicesters' stubborn defence, as they blocked everything that came their way.

The visitors had a great chance on 37 minutes, but Danny Simpson was in the way of Antonio's effort before Dimitri Payet tried his luck but was thwarted by Foxes' stopper Kasper Schmeichel.

The East Londoners had an even better chance to level moments later, when Antonio quite superbly turned and hit the bar after latching onto Cresswell's cross.

The half ended with both goalkeepers saving from freekicks; Schmeichel got down well to prevent Payet's effort from beating him, while Randolph kept out Mahrez.

Ranieri clearly had more to say to his side during the break, as the visitors were sent back out from the dressing room a while before the Leicester players re-emerged.

After a scrappy opening to the second 45, Lanzini replaced captain Mark Noble on 57 minutes.

West Ham continued to dominate but the hosts were thankful to Schmeichel for preserving their clean sheet.

Creswell decided to take responsibility for a freekick midway through the second half but the goalkeeper managed to brilliantly stop his deflected effort.

Shortly after, Sofiane Feghouli entered the fray in place of André Ayew.

An already feisty affair saw yellow cards then given to Daniel Amartey and Havard Nordtveit.

Bilic was clearly thinking ahead to Monday evenings home clash with Manchester United as the game wore on and with 78 minutes gone he made his final change, introducing Edimilson Fernandes for Cheikou Kouyate.

The home side should have made the points safe in the closing stages, but Amartey hit the post, while seconds later, West Ham were unable to find an equaliser as Ogbonna's goal bound header was blocked by Simpson.

The Irons will be grateful that they don't have to wait too long for a chance to atone for this defeat, as the Red Devils provide the opposition for the first of three consecutive games in Stratford.


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