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Tuesday, September 21, 2021

EPL: Record-breaker Michail Antonio leads West Ham to 2nd straight win

Antonio's first- a close-range shot on the turn to make it 3-1 in the 80th- moved him past Paolo Di Canio's previous record mark of 47 and he celebrated by running to the sideline and raising aloft a cardboard cut-out of himself.

By: AP | London |
Updated: August 24, 2021 12:34:38 pm
EPL, West HamSpinning around to cheers from a packed crowd, Antonio, whose goal celebrations often provide amusement, finished his routine by planting a kiss on himself before tossing the cut-out to the ground. (Twitter/WestHam)

Michail Antonio’s record goal for West Ham was sealed with a kiss.

The fun-loving striker became the London club’s all-time leading scorer in the Premier League era, moving onto 49 goals by netting twice in a 4-1 win over 10-man Leicester at the Olympic Stadium on Monday.

Antonio’s first- a close-range shot on the turn to make it 3-1 in the 80th- moved him past Paolo Di Canio’s previous record mark of 47 and he celebrated by running to the sideline and raising aloft a cardboard cut-out of himself.

Spinning around to cheers from a packed crowd, Antonio, whose goal celebrations often provide amusement, finished his routine by planting a kiss on himself before tossing the cut-out to the ground.

He said the celebration was based on 2001 movie “Save The Last Dance” and was pre-planned, having placed the cut-out behind West Ham’s dugout before kickoff.

“I’ve not been celebrating of late because of VAR,” Antonio said.

“I was like, If I’m making history, I’ve got to do something special.’ I started it off doing celebrations so I’ve got to finish it doing celebrations.”

Antonio, a converted striker, having played as a winger and even a full back since joining West Ham in 2015, still had time to add a second goal, stretching to prod home a finish in the 84th after controlling a right-wing cross. It wrapped up West Ham’s second straight victory to open the season.

David Moyes’ team is one of five to be on a maximum six points after two rounds, and is in first place on goals scored.

“I’ve challenged the players to find that extra two points that could have been enough to get us in the Champions League,” Moyes said, referring to his team finishing in sixth place last season, two points behind fourth-place Chelsea.

“I could be asking far too much but what else am I going to do stand here and say we want to avoid relegation?”
West Ham hasn’t started a top-flight season with two straight wins since 1997. It has eight goals so far, having beaten Newcastle 4-2 last weekend.

Algeria winger Said Benrahma, who has also started the season strongly like Antonio, set up Pablo Fornals for West Ham’s 26th-minute opener before scoring himself to put West Ham 2-0 ahead. Antonio played a key role in Benrahma’s goal, intercepting a back pass by Leicester defender Caglar Soyuncu before playing the ball across the area for his teammate to convert.

That meant Benrahma repeated his goal and assist from the win at Newcastle.

Youri Tielemans pulled a goal back in the 69th minute for Leicester, which lost attacking midfielder Ayoze Perez to a straight red card in the 40th for a lunge at the ankle of Fornals. No foul was given initially, but referee Michael Oliver changed his mind after reviewing the incident on a pitchside monitor.

Perez appeared to lose his balance just before the foul as a result of a tackle from behind by West Ham defender Aaron Cresswell.

“If you look in isolation at the contact, it doesn’t look good,” Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers said.

“But if you look back, there’s a foul on him, he gets clipped. If he goes down, he gets a free-kick. Because he’s clipped he’s stretching and makes the tackle.”

Leicester opened with a 1-0 win over Wolverhampton.

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