West Ham took a giant leap towards securing their Premier League survival and piled more pressure on Leicester boss Claude Puel with a 2-0 victory at the King Power Stadium.
Puel’s side went into the match having won just twice in their last 11 Premier League games but the Frenchman received the dreaded vote of confidence from club’s owners this week.
His cause was not helped on Saturday by the absence of nine players through injury and suspension but Leicester’s performance, on a hot afternoon, was lukewarm at best.
West Ham inflicted a fourth Foxes loss in five Premier League matches with goals in each half from Joao Mario and Mark Noble, the Hammers captain scoring a possible goal-of-the-season contender.
The win moved David Moyes’ team six points clear of the bottom three and put a three-point cushion between Swansea and Huddersfield immediately below them.
Leicester looked disjointed early on, perhaps as a result of Puel having to make five changes, and struggled to settle. West Ham tried to take advantage and Manuel Lanzini saw two goalbound efforts blocked – the second inadvertently by team-mate Marko Arnautovic.
The game was played almost exclusively in the Leicester half until the hosts finally found their feet and put together their best passage of play as the half-hour mark approached. Although, it must be said, without troubling Adrian in the West Ham goal.
West Ham’s best spell immediately followed, during which they took the lead. Arnautovic fired a couple of warning shots across Leicester’s bow.
First he forced Ben Hamer to save with his legs following a swift break down the left by Lanzini before his shot on the turn struck the crossbar.
The opening goal came after 34 minutes when Arthur Masuaku’s far-post cross from the left was controlled and knocked back into the six-yard box where Joao Mario simply tapped the ball home.
West Ham should have extended their lead early in the second half. Joao Mario’s pass put Arnautovic through on goal down the right side of the penalty area but he dawdled and allowed Christian Fuchs to make a block when he did eventually shoot.
Puel, who had brought Aleksandar Dragovic on for Vicente Iborra at half-time, made his two remaining substitutions after 61 minutes with Demarai Gray and Kelechi Iheanacho replacing Hamza Choudhury and Fousseni Diabate.
The changes were met with a rendition of “you don’t know what you’re doing” from some home supporters.
Harry Maguire, now playing in central midfield, went close with a half-volley from the edge of the area. The centre-half showed good technique but his shot was always rising.
West Ham scored their second goal in the 64th minute and it was a strike worthy of settling any match. Joao Mario’s free-kick was cleared by Dragovic as far as Noble, who struck the ball first time from 25 yards out and his shot flew into the bottom corner of the net.
The closest Leicester came to a reply was when Yohan Benalouane’s late header was pushed away by Adrian.