Manager on Monday

Slaven Bilic was proud of side but frustrated at the result after the Hammers drew 2-2 at Leicester City
Slaven Bilic admitted to mixed emotions as a last-minute Leicester City penalty denied his West Ham United side a memorable victory at the Barclays Premier League leaders Leicester City on Sunday.

As they have done so many times this season, the Hammers had bravely fought back from a goal down to lead going into added time, only for the hosts to be awarded a controversial spot-kick when Andy Carroll was adjudged to have felled Jeffrey Schlupp in the box.

Leonardo Ulloa duly converted to deny Bilic’s side a famous win, but after the game the manager, although frustrated, was keen to dwell on the positives of the visitors’ performance.

“To get a point at Leicester, you’ve got to be brave, you’ve got to have quality,” he said. “It’s great for us to bounce back after the defeat to Manchester United.

“To play like we did and not stop at 1-1 was brilliant. Of course we are pleased. On the other hand I don’t remember when I felt so frustrated as I think we fully deserved three points.”

The Foxes had to play the last 30 minutes with ten men after goalscorer Jamie Vardy was sent off for a second booking. His early departure and the half-time arrival of Andy Carroll – who fired the Hammers level from their own spot-kick – revitalised Bilic’s side as they laid siege to Leicester’s penalty area.

“On the one hand I am proud of my team as it is a very hard game. In the last six games when Leicester score, it is normally game over.

“But before the sending-off we were putting them under pressure. We didn’t lose our composure, we were playing our game. Apart from the goal, we coped pretty well with their counter attacks.

“Especially after the sending-off we totally dominated the game. We came back with a controversial penalty but then we didn’t stop. We showed character and quality and pushed the full-backs even more up. Aaron Cresswell scored his goal to put us 2-1 up from left winger position.

“At that moment I thought we had done more than enough to win the game but then the moment came with that controversial penalty.

“It was a great game of football with everything; with intensity, with penalties and red cards.”

The West Ham manager was his usual animated self on the touchline and shared some lively exchanges with his opposite number, Claudio Ranieri. The pair seemed to be enjoying a light-hearted analysis of the game as it neared his conclusion, but Bilic was keeping the details of what was discussed to himself.

“We spoke a few times about the game and a bit about the referee but that stays between us,” he explained with a wry smile.

The Croat will no doubt be hoping to be smiling again after Wednesday’s game, when the Hammers host Watford at the Boleyn Ground.