Match ends, West Ham United 2, Leicester City 3.
Leicester City held on to claim their first Premier League away win of the season and further ease their relegation worries in a stirring victory over West Ham.
The Foxes scored twice inside the first seven minutes as Riyad Mahrez’s cross evaded Hammers keeper Darren Randolph before an unmarked Robert Huth headed in Marc Albrighton’s deft chipped pass following an excellent set-piece move.
Manuel Lanzini put the hosts back in contention with a sublime free-kick on 20 minutes, only for Jamie Vardy to restore his side’s two-goal advantage before the break as he pounced on lax defending from Albrighton’s corner to strike high past Randolph.
After the interval, Andre Ayew headed in after Andy Carroll won the ball at the back post from a corner as West Ham exerted constant pressure on the visitors in a dramatic finale.
However, Kasper Schmeichel made two tremendous saves to deny Carroll from close range late on and secure a fourth straight victory for the Foxes under new manager Craig Shakespeare as they move six points clear of the Premier League relegation zone.
Ayew also fired wide when free on goal, ensuring Slaven Bilic’s side are now winless in five league games as their struggles in the first year at the London Stadium continue.
Fast starts and frantic finishes
Leicester’s resurgence under Shakespeare following the sacking of Claudio Ranieri is no longer surprising, even if the reasons behind it remain slightly disputed, but their first half showing here was perhaps the closest they have come to last year’s thrilling title-winning performances.
Their first goal was fortuitous as Mahrez’s cross from deep missed both Shinji Okazaki’s run across the six-yard box and Randolph’s last-ditch attempted save but it rocked West Ham and the visitors capitalised ruthlessly.
Mahrez, unrecognisable from the forlorn figure of earlier this season, combined brilliantly with opposite winger Albrighton in a well-worked free-kick that saw the latter chip a reverse pass first-time over the Hammers defence for Huth to easily nod past Randolph.
After that early one-two punch, Leicester played football worthy of their status as champions, drawing the Hammers out of shape with their passing, while England striker Vardy scored only his second away league goal of the campaign.
However, the second half was more reminiscent of Leicester’s problems at the start of this year as their decision to slow the pace of the game only seemed to stifle their own creativity and invite West Ham back into the contest.
Ultimately, though, Shakespeare’s side showed enough grit in the absence of injured captain Wes Morgan at the back to double their points won on the road this season.
The Great Dane puts in a man-of-the-match performance
All of Leicester’s attacking endeavour and rearguard defence would have been futile if not for Schmeichel.
The Danish international made a staggering save in added time as substitute Robert Snodgrass’ free-kick was deflected into the path of Carroll six yards out, only for his thumping volley to be kept out by Schmeichel’s out-stretched right arm.
In terms of difficulty, it was harder than either of his penalty saves in Leicester’s last-16 Champions League ties against Sevilla and a reminder that Schmeichel deserves to be included in any debate over the best keeper in the Premier League.
The only blot on his performance came when he could have perhaps got a stronger palm to Ayew’s header for West Ham’s second, while he stood no chance from Lanzini’s free-kick.
He also clawed out Carroll’s header on 77 minutes while falling behind the line and kept his composure as West Ham peppered the Leicester area with crosses and corners in the second half.
Hammers sick of home
Bilic’s side now have a paltry five wins from 15 home league games in their new stadium, while their goals scored and conceded records are better on their travels.
Not that they were lacking in support here as the atmosphere inside the London Stadium lifted throughout the second half, having initially been wiped out by West Ham’s dismal start.
It was their defence’s appalling lack of concentration in the first 15 minutes that essentially decided the outcome of the game, given that the hosts were the better side after the break as Michail Antonio, Ayew and Carroll menaced the Leicester back four.
In that trio, together with the excellent free-kick abilities of Lanzini, the Hammers have the attacking talent to test most teams and soften the blow of losing Dimitri Payet to Marseille.
Yet January signing Jose Fonte has added no stability to a defence that has now conceded 27 league goals at home this season – only Swansea have leaked more with 30 – while fellow centre-back Winston Reid limped off with a leg injury.
West Ham are now only three points above Leicester in 11th and have nine games to salvage a decidedly disappointing season.
West Ham manager Slaven Bilic: “It is very frustrating for us to lose the game. We didn’t start well and what is really disappointing is the way we conceded three goals.
“In this league you can’t afford to be 3-1 down and try to turn the game around. But they showed character. Last 20 minutes the ball just didn’t want to go in.
“You can call it poor finishing but we have to give huge credit to Kasper Schmeichel, especially for the save to the last chance from Andy Carroll.
Leicester manager Craig Shakespeare: “We showed all the attributes to win a game. We started really well and got the goals but it was backs to the wall at the end.
“We have to give West Ham credit. They threw everything at us in the second half and Kasper had to make some special saves again. My heart was in my mouth at times.
“On the outside you try to keep calm and collected to keep the players focused. I am intensely proud of the results we have got.”
Shakespeare makes history – match stats
- Craig Shakespeare is the first manager in Premier League history to have his side score three-plus goals in his first three games in the competition.
- West Ham are without a win in four league home games (D1 L3) for the first time since January 2014.
- Leicester secured their first league away win of the season in their 14th game.
- Riyad Mahrez has scored as many league goals in three games under Craig Shakespeare, as he had in his final 22 under Claudio Ranieri.
- Marc Albrighton has had a hand in three goals in his past four appearances for Leicester in all competitions, as many as in his previous 27.
- Manuel Lanzini has now registered his best-ever goal haul in a Premier League season (seven).
West Ham face back-to-back away games as they travel to Hull on Saturday, 1 April (15:00 BST) and Arsenal on Wednesday, 5 April (19:45 BST).
Leicester are at home twice in a row as they face Stoke on Saturday, 1 April (15:00 BST) and Sunderland on Tuesday, 4 April (19:45 BST).
Second Half ends, West Ham United 2, Leicester City 3.
Foul by Robert Snodgrass (West Ham United).
Kasper Schmeichel (Leicester City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt saved. Islam Slimani (Leicester City) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Ben Chilwell with a through ball.
Attempt blocked. Edimilson Fernandes (West Ham United) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Manuel Lanzini.
Foul by Arthur Masuaku (West Ham United).
Ahmed Musa (Leicester City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt saved. Andy Carroll (West Ham United) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom left corner.
Attempt blocked. Robert Snodgrass (West Ham United) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
André Ayew (West Ham United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City).
Attempt missed. Andy Carroll (West Ham United) header from the centre of the box misses to the left.
Substitution, Leicester City. Ben Chilwell replaces Riyad Mahrez.
Delay over. They are ready to continue.
Delay in match Yohan Benalouane (Leicester City) because of an injury.
Foul by Andy Carroll (West Ham United).
Yohan Benalouane (Leicester City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt saved. Andy Carroll (West Ham United) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Manuel Lanzini.
Attempt blocked. Cheikhou Kouyaté (West Ham United) right footed shot from very close range is blocked. Assisted by José Fonte.
Attempt blocked. Andy Carroll (West Ham United) header from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Robert Snodgrass with a cross.
Corner, West Ham United. Conceded by Wilfred Ndidi.
Corner, West Ham United. Conceded by Christian Fuchs.
Attempt missed. André Ayew (West Ham United) right footed shot from the centre of the box is just a bit too high. Assisted by Michail Antonio with a through ball.
Attempt blocked. Arthur Masuaku (West Ham United) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Corner, West Ham United. Conceded by Kasper Schmeichel.
Attempt saved. Andy Carroll (West Ham United) header from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Michail Antonio with a cross.
Substitution, Leicester City. Islam Slimani replaces Jamie Vardy.
Substitution, Leicester City. Ahmed Musa replaces Shinji Okazaki.
Corner, West Ham United. Conceded by Daniel Drinkwater.
Substitution, West Ham United. Arthur Masuaku replaces Aaron Cresswell.
Michail Antonio (West Ham United) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City).
André Ayew (West Ham United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Jamie Vardy (Leicester City).
Attempt blocked. Riyad Mahrez (Leicester City) left footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Shinji Okazaki.
Foul by Edimilson Fernandes (West Ham United).
Daniel Drinkwater (Leicester City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Substitution, West Ham United. Edimilson Fernandes replaces Pedro Obiang because of an injury.
Delay over. They are ready to continue.