Top Flight Status Confirmed at Leicester
By Tom Dowsett
Sunday 06 May 2018 15:06:00
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Most of the recent games for West Ham United have been crucial but they started May by securing their Premier League status with a third away win of the season, thanks to a 2-0 victory over Leicester City at The King Power Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Adrián retained his place in goal as Joe Hart was not involved due to illness which meant Nathan Trott was again on the bench, while Arthur Masuaku returned to the starting line- up in place of Patrice Evra and João Mário was preferred to Edimilson Fernandes.

The was a welcome sight for the Hammers' fans, as Pedro Obiang was deemed fit enough to the named amongst the substitutes after a long period on the sidelines.

The Hammers had not won on the road since 13 January and keen to pile on the misery for the Foxes after the 5-0 humiliation at Crystal Palace last weekend. The visitors could have opened the scoring after just six minutes, Manuel Lanzini had a shot blocked and despite the ball falling to Pablo Zabaleta, he couldn't find a teammate.

It took the Argentine a while to get his rhythm going after returning from injury against Manchester City last weekend but he certainly looked as though he was back to his best here.

This was evident five minutes later when he raced past a Leicester defender and sent an effort goalwards from the edge of the box but the unfortunate deflection on the shot from Marko Arnautovic sent it out of play and a goal kick was awarded.

West Ham had another presentable chance just moments later but Zabaleta couldn't get his head to Masuaku's cross.

Knowing that Leicester had lost their last four games the Irons continued to dominate. Lanzini and Arnautovic combined to good effect again to beat Hamza Choudhury down the left wing and the Austrian found himself in the clear but his low shot was well saved by Ben Hamer.

Three minutes later however, Hamer was left with no chance as the winger sent an effort goalwards but, unfortunately for those in the away end, the ball smacked the underside of the crossbar.

It didn't seem to matter too much though, as the visitors had the ball in the net just a minute later when Mário grabbed a crucial goal, just as he did in their last win at home to Southampton at the end of March.

Great control allowed the Portuguese midfielder to slide the ball into the empty net to give his team a deserved lead.

The Hammers could have extended their advantage minutes before the break but Lanzini only found the side netting.

Many would have thought that Leicester would be rejuvenated after the break but West Ham continued to orchestrate matters.

Although a handball decision seemed to go in favour of Aaron Cresswell, under pressure from Jamie Vardy, but he was only booked when the home faithful wanted the defender to see red.

It looked for a while as though Claude Puel's men would give the Hammers something to think about but after they had weathered the early storm, David Moyes's side went close again but Arnautovic was unable to find a teammate.

On 65 minutes, West Ham gave themselves further breathing space with a spectacular second.

A Mário freekick was cleared by substitute Aleksandar Dragović but the ball then found West Ham's captain, who sent the ball flying past Hamer to give the away end something to cheer.

West Ham almost found a third five minutes later when Arnautovic beat three challenges but his goal-bound shot was blocked on its way into the net.

Five minutes later, David Moyes decided it was time to make a change, so he brought on Andy Carroll in place of Lanzini and he made another just four minutes later, as Fernandes entered the fray, taking the place of Arnautovic.

Adrián made a superb save to prevent Yohan Benalouane from beating him and during five minutes of added time, the manager made his final change, as Masuaku made way for Evra.

Stoppage time was successfully negotiated and when referee Christopher Kavanagh blew the final whistle, most of the home fans were already through the exits, while the West Ham players immediately went over to the away end to thank the travelling support for their efforts throughout this testing campaign.

The Hammers bring the 2017/18 season to a close with successive home games, starting with the visit of Manchester United to Stratford on Thursday evening knowing that Everton's late equaliser against Southampton had secured their place in the top-flight for next season.

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