Football: Kitson's kickstart

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The Independent Online
West Ham United 3

Kitson 37, Lomas 47, Lampard 76

Leicester City 2

Izzet 28, Lampard og 87

Attendance: 25,642

TYPICAL West Ham. After threatening at times to tear Martin O'Neill's fragile-looking Leicester aside, they were left hanging on in the dying minutes after Frank Lampard had deflected the ball past his own goalkeeper 11 minutes after his fiercely struck free-kick seemed to have wrapped up the points for the Hammers.

The pre-match publicity surrounded Tony Cottee's latest return to his Alma Mater, where he scored twice last season but finished up on the losing side. However, it was another striker playing against his first club, Paul Kitson, who proved the greater influence on proceedings after equalising with his first Premiership goal for 11 months and leading the Hammers line with aplomb.

O'Neill, without the injured Emile Heskey, elected to keep Cottee on the bench and paired another Eastender, Muzzy Izzet, with Graham Fenton in attack. It had a lightweight look to it but it was good enough to give Leicester a 28th-minute lead after Robert Ullathorne had found Izzet with time and space in the inside-right channel and the former Chelsea man drove a firm shot beyond Shaka Hislop.

Kitson put the Hammers back on level terms nine minutes later following an astute through ball from talk-show host Ian Wright, and soon after the break they were in front thanks to Steve Lomas's shot taking a chunky deflection off Steve Walsh.

Wright, who missed the proverbial open goal, and Eyal Berkovic both had chances to increase the lead before Lampard finally did, drilling his shot through the Leicester wall although again there was a suspicion of a deflection.

That seemed to be that, but it was reckoning without West Ham's propensity for making life difficult for themselves. Sure enough, three minutes from time a mix-up in the Hammers area led to the ball bouncing through a crowd of players over Hislop's line, with the unlucky Lampard being credited with the final touch.

It was Leicester's first defeat in 10 matches, although if Frank Sinclair's shot in injury time had gone the right side of the post they might still have saved themselves.

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