Wilfred Ndidi of Leicester City celebrates after scoring his team's first goal during the Premier League match between Leicester City and West Ham United (Image- 2018 Getty Images)

Wilfred Ndidi’s late deflected strike saved Leicester City and their boss Claude Puel from an embarrassing defeat at home to 10-man West Ham.

Ndidi’s 90th-minute effort looped off the back of Fabian Balbuena, who had earlier put the Hammers ahead, and into the top corner to prevent a third straight defeat for City, who had nearly an hour with a man advantage after Mark Noble’s reckless first-half challenge.

The goal was a lifeline for Puel who made the brave decision to drop Jamie Vardy, the striker suffering with illness earlier in the week.

Dropping Vardy to the bench was not Puel’s only selection gamble. The City boss brought in Caglar Soyuncu for his debut, despite the £19million summer signing struggling to adjust to life in England, as well as Rachid Ghezzal, whose ineffective performances have come in for social media criticism in recent weeks.

Early signs suggested the gamble had paid off as City started brightly. Kelechi Iheanacho, playing as a lone striker, had the ball in the net inside two minutes, but was half a yard offside from Marc Albrighton’s cross.

Ghezzal made a confident start too, turning into space and nearly threading through the Nigerian striker.

Albrighton was City’s main outlet and one of his deliveries nearly brought the opener as Balbuena’s miscued header nearly looped over Lukasz Fabianksi.

But City’s fast start lasted the 15 minutes and West Ham clawed back control.

Felipe Anderson saw a shot well-saved by Kasper Schmeichel, then Robert Snodgrass slid a shot wide after some calamitous defending at the back.

So it was no surprise when the Hammers took the lead. City were completely static as a free-kick landed on the head of Declan Rice and he nodded across to an unmarked Balbuena.

The Paraguayan headed against the post and then reacted quickest when the rebound evaded Schmeichel, poking the visitors into the lead.


City looked toothless and there was audible frustration in the crowd.

But they were sparked into life when Noble saw red. The Hammers skipper planted his studs on Wilfred Ndidi’s ankle as he stretched for a loose ball and was rightly dismissed by referee Michael Oliver.

City were on top for the remainder of the half, but only created one clear opportunity, Fabianski getting down well to save Vicente Iborra’s free header, the Spaniard nearly scoring on his first league start of the season.

The half-time whistle was greeted by a smattering of boos from City fans, but they were cheering come the start of the second half when Vardy walked out of the tunnel, Puel deciding his gamble had not paid off.

Even with all 10 outfielders camped in West Ham’s half, City took 15 minutes to create chances, but then they came thick and fast.

Albrighton saw a volley well saved by Fabianski, before Vardy’s big moment, the striker heading over the bar unmarked five yards out.

Moments later, Maguire connected with Maddison’s corner only to see his header bounce off the crossbar.

The chances then dried up before a late flurry of activity.

Ndidi had a goal ruled out for offside, then Vardy blew another big opportunity as he shot straight at Fabianski.

But then came the lifeline with two minutes to go. Ndidi lined up an effort from 25 yards, as he does so often, and the ball took a huge deflection off Balbuena’s back and into the top corner.

The action did not end there.

As City chased a winner, they were caught on the counter and Angelo Ogbonna blazed a gilt-edged chance over.

In the build-up to the chance, Daniel Amartey suffered a sickening injury as his ankle twisted under his body and he left on a stretcher.

There was still time for more opportunities but West Ham got their bodies on the line and ensured the match finished level.

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