West Ham spurned the chance to move within two points of Leicester City after they were pegged back to draw 1-1 at the King Power Stadium.

Fabián Balbuena opened the scoring on the half-hour mark for the visitors with his first Premier League goal since joining from Corinthians in the summer, but skipper Mark Noble saw red for a wild challenge on Wilfred Ndidi to allow the Foxes a way back into the game.

Harry Maguire struck the bar for the hosts, who were knocking on the door in the second half, before Ndidi levelled the scores in the 89th minute with a deflected strike.

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Key Talking Point

Leicester initially started in the ascendancy and set up camp in the away side's half. They took advantage of the Hammers' high line of defence and nearly exploited them, with Iheanacho foiled by the linesman's flag, but they dropped off and allowed West Ham to assert themselves.

They invited unnecessary pressure from their opponents and allowed them too much time and space, which was evident in the goal they conceded. They stood still and watched, as if in slow motion, as Balbuena opened the scoring from a set piece.

Ghezzal came off for Vardy during the interval and the Englishman gave the Foxes more of an option up front. His movement off the ball allowed players to seek him out in behind the West Ham defence, which was a regular feature as Albrighton frequently looked up to find the striker, who managed to get onto his deliveries but just couldn't find the net.


The influence of two strikers in Shinji Okazaki and Vardy caused several problems for Manuel Pellegrini's men, and their threat in the area meant that space opened up for the midfielders, which eventually led to Ndidi levelling things up with a deflected strike from outside the area.

The game ended on something of a sour note though, a horrific ankle injury to Daniel Amartey seeing the defender stretchered off. 

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Player Ratings

Starting XI: Schmeichel (6); Amartey (6), Söyüncü (5), Maguire (6), Chilwell (6); Ndidi (6), Iborra (6); Ghezzal (5), Maddison (6), Albrighton (6); Iheanacho (5).

Substitutes: Gray (6), Okazaki (6), Vardy (6*).

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STAR MAN - Vardy offered a new dimension since coming on for the Foxes. He was the target man that they didn't have in the first-half. He offered himself in areas of the pitch that Iheanacho didn't and his overall presence caused the Hammers several problems. 

Vardy was hungry for the ball, made good runs off the play and ran across defenders to get in with a chance of scoring, showing why he should have started instead of the Nigerian.

WORST PLAYER - Iheanacho started the game brightly and had the ball in the back of the net, but it was ruled out for offside. He was quiet after that, and didn't see much of the ball – ending the first half as the Leicester player with the second fewest touches. 

In truth, he was deprived of service for the most part of the first period, but didn't really get into any positions to receive the ball and when it finally opened up for him, he squandered it.

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Key Talking Point

The Hammers grew into the game after the first quarter of an hour, which saw them pegged back in their own half, and they used their width – provided by the two full-backs, to a good standard. They got bodies into the penalty area and were able to get shots away.

The east London outfit seemed to have been working on set pieces, with their goal looking to have come straight off the training ground. Balbuena peeled off his man to latch onto Declan Rice's flick-on from a free kick and bundle home, after the Paraguayan's initial header struck the post.

However, from a position of control, they were up against it when skipper Noble was sent off eight minutes later, for a needless high, lunging challenge on Ndidi.

They were on the back foot in the second half and couldn't get out. They struggled to keep possession and just invited pressure onto them. They did as well as they could with ten men, but the players had to make up more ground and consequently, Balbuena's unfortunate ricochet ended up in the back of the net.

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Player Ratings

Starting XI: Fabiański (6); Zabaleta (6), Balbuena (7*), Diop (6), Masuaku (5); Rice (6), Diangana (6), Noble (5), Snodgrass (5), Anderson (5); Hernández (5).

Substitutes: Ogbonna (5), Cresswell (5), Antonio (5)

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STAR MAN - Balbuena was terrific. He scored the opener for the Hammers and was a brick wall for his side in defence. He got tight to his opponents, read the game well and got into good defensive positions in order to make decent blocks and recovery challenges.

It isn't easy defending while a man down, but he did very well, considering that he had to deal with Vardy in the second half, a player who never gives his opponents a moment's rest. He was assured for the majority of the match but, unfortunately for him, it was his deflection that saw Leicester equalise.

WORST PLAYER - Noble's bizarre challenge ultimately cost his side. They were in control after going in front, but his decision to needlessly go to ground and commit to a high, lunging challenge, gave referee Michael Oliver no option other than to send the him off.

It was an astonishing challenge, considering his vast experience in the game and on another day, it could have cost West Ham further.

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Looking Ahead

Next up, Leicester host 16th placed Southampton, who are hoping to end their six-game winless run in the league.

As for West Ham, they host London rivals Tottenham Hotspur in the Carabao Cup in midweek, before hosting another claret and blue side in Burnley on Saturday.