Barnes' late leveller thwarts Hammers
West Ham United 2
Leicester City 2
Harvey Barnes’ 92nd minute equaliser all but ended West Ham’s hopes of finishing in the Premier League top seven, as the Hammers were held to a 2-2 draw by Leicester City at London Stadium today.
In a pulsating end to what, up until the final few minutes, had been a rather sedate game, West Ham looked like they had snatched it through substitute Lucas Perez, after Jamie Vardy had equalised Michail Antonio’s first-half header.
But Barnes’ right footed strike from inside the area meant Leicester left with a draw which neither side would have really wanted – Watford now in prime position to finish in seventh place, which will be good enough for the Europa League next season if Manchester City with the FA Cup.
West Ham started the brighter of the two sides, winning a succession of corners, without looking all that threatening.
A Robert Snodgrass shot was blocked and Kasper Schmeichel clawed a cross out of the reaches of Antonio, who shortly afterwards failed to connect with Marko Arnautovic’s cross from the right.
Leicester, playing mainly on the break, were restricted to two long-range shots from James Maddison, first after good hold-up play by Vardy, then following decent work from Wilfred Ndidi.
Vardy was marshalled well by the Hammers in the first half, his best chance a volley on the turn from Marc Albrighton’s right wing cross, which the England striker failed to make good contact with, and the ball bobbled into the arms of the thankful Lucasz Fabianski.
But West Ham’s pressure paid off after 37 minutes, when the industrious Mark Noble crossed for Antonio, whose bullet header flew past Schmeichel.
Leicester started second half the stronger of the two sides, seemingly having been given a harsh talking to by boss Brendan Rodgers.
Referee Lee Probert would have been relieved to see his assistant’s flag go up against Vardy, having had a big hand in the build-up, deflecting the ball forward towards the Hammers’ goal. Vardy’s shot was wayward in any case, flying high and wide into the Sir Trevor Brooking Stand.
In fact much of the early period of the second half was the exact opposite of the first, with Leicester having most of the play, and West Ham playing on the break, restricted themselves to a couple of long shots.
City’s impressive start to the second half was rewarded on 66 minutes when Harry Maguire’s ball found Ben Chilwell on the left. The left back’s low cross was poked home by Vardy, who was first to the ball at the near post.
Leicester continued to push, and looked the more likely winners until, it appeared, a goal made from the substitutes bench may have won it for the Hammers. Perez, on for a matter of minutes, was on hand to poke the ball home after fellow substitute Pedro Obiang’s 25-yard shot cannoned back off the post. Leicester appealed for offside, but the assistant’s flag stayed by his side.
But just when the Hammers thought they had taken all three points, Harvey Barnes popped up.
Teams: West Ham United: Fabianski, Zabaleta, Balbuena, Ogbonna, Masuaku, Rice (Yellow), Antonio, Noble (Wilshere, 83), Snodgrass (Yellow, Obiang, 73), Anderson, Arnautovic (Perez, 77)
Subs not used: Adrian, Diop, Fredericks Diangana
Leicester City: Schmeichel, Pereira, Evans, Maguire, Chilwell, Ndidi, Gray (Iheanacho, 83), Tielemans, Maddison, Albrighton (Barnes, 62), Vardy
Subs not used: Morgan, Ward, Okazaki, Mendy, Fuchs
Referee: Lee Probert