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  • By Yann Tear at London Stadium

Barnstorming Antonio fires Hammers to another four-goal bonanza, as 10-man Foxes crumble


West Ham (1) 4 Fornals 26, Benrahma 57, Antonio 80, 84

Leicester City (0) 1 Tielemans 70


Michail Antonio became West Ham’s top Premier League scorer after bagging two late goals on a thrilling night of football at a bouncing London Stadium.

Fans have waited 18-long months to savour something like this and to have a hero such as their star striker in such glittering form made it a night to remember.

It was as if he had taken personal offence at all the adulation and praise heaped on Romelu Lukaku and decided he wanted to show he can be every bit as good.

He was irresistible and should have had a hat-trick. Only the brilliance of Kasper Schmeichel prevented it from happening.

He left the field to rapturous applause from appreciative home fans when he was subbed off soon after his goal-burst.

The margin of victory was undoubtedly partly a consequence of the Foxes being reduced to 10 just before half time but the way the Hammers grew stronger as the game unfolded meant they were excellent value for a second successive four-goal salvo to launch their season.

David Moyes a byword for conservative football? Not with this thrilling team.

For much of the night, it seemed likely Pablo Fornals might steal the headlines.

The Spaniard may not have notched too many goals since his £24m move from Villareal two years ago but he hit a beauty to set the ball rolling.

And it was not his only moment of significance, as he was also unwittingly at the centre of the game’s flashpoint just before the break when Ayoze Perez saw red for a clumsy challenge on him.

Ref Michael Oliver was alerted by VAR to the severity and recklessness of Perez’s lunge, which caught Fornals just above the ankle, and after a look at the pitch-side monitor, correctly decided he had to go.

It was lucky there was no lasting damage done to Fornals, who did his bit to make it a memorable night for Hammers fans.

Fornals scored after the slickest one-twos, spreading the ball out wide to Said Benrahma on the left, after Jamie Vardy had surrendered possession on half way, then racing to clip the return low centre first-time into the far bottom corner.

Buoyed by what was only his 11th goal for the club, the 25-year-old then almost set up a second with a wicked near-post cross to Thomas Soucek, which was headed narrowly wide.

But the Hammers gained an even firmer hold on proceedings after Perez was sent off and early in the second half, Caglar Soyuncu made a blind backpass to his keeper which was easily picked off by Antonio, and his roll back into space was gleefully swept in low by Benrahma.

The Foxes were not quite done, in spite of this seemingly unanswerable third blow of the night. After James Maddison had pinged in a cross from the left, Youri Tielemans managed to find the net at the second attempt after an initial shot had been blocked by Aaron Cresswell.

But then it became the Antonio show. He took delivery of a Declan Rice cross, turned the floundering Soyuncu and thrashed the ball into the far corner.

And moments later, he got the better of Daniel Amartey after good work from Vlad Coufal on the right and prodded home.

Early on, Antonio had set the tone with a scorching gallop across the turf just inside the Foxes’ half, leaving Wilfred Ndidi struggling to find his slip-stream. The final shot ripped just wide of Schmeichel’s left-hand post and it was a warning of things to come.

He was denied two almost-certain goals by the superb Schmeichel. First, when he got on the end of a cross from the right – only for the keeper to make another of those amazing reflex saves which seem to be his speciality – then with a firmly-struck drive that was arrowing into the bottom corner until the Foxes’ stopper got a hand to it.

But he had the last laugh. Twice.

Hammers: (4-2-3-1) Fabianski – Coufal, Dawson, Ogbonna, Cresswell – Rice, Soucek – Bowen, Benrahma (Noble 89), Fornals – Antonio (Yarmolenko 89). Subs not used: Areola, Lanzini, Diop, Fredericks, Johnson, Coventry, Baptiste

Foxes: (4-2-3-1) Schmeichel – Pereira, Amartey, Soyuncu, Thomas – Tielemans, Ndidi – Perez, Maddison (Soumare 81), Barnes (Daka 65) – Vardy (Iheanacho 81). Subs not used: Ward, Albrighton, Choudhury, Dewsbury-Hall, Praet, Castagne

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