David Moyes called Michail Antonio “different class” after the striker fired himself into the West Ham record books and the Hammers to the top of the Premier League.
Antonio’s quickfire double wrapped up a 4-1 victory over 10-man Leicester at a raucous London Stadium.
His first saw him overtake Paolo Di Canio as West Ham’s top Premier League goalscorer, and he celebrated in hilarious fashion by kissing a life-size cardboard cut-out of himself.
Moments later he was one short of a half-century of top-flight goals as West Ham maintained their flying start to the season.
Hammers boss Moyes said: “There were a lot of good things for us tonight, the most important was three points and it was a really good performance.
“His goals are typical Mich. He can score so many. I didn’t think he made the right choices in the first half but in the second half he was different class.
“He’s only been at centre-forward for the last 18 months or two years. He’s gone on from there and he’s looking a real handful. His all-round play has improved so much.”
Antonio’s goal celebration attracted plenty of attention and broadcasters later found footage of the forward hiding the cardboard cut-out earlier in the evening.
He claimed he was recreating a scene from the film ‘Dirty Dancing’, although he had to clarify this after initially referring to ‘Save the Last Dance’ in his post-match interviews.
Antonio tweeted: “Score the goal, make history, nail the celebration, get the film name wrong in the interview. Baby forgive me! #DirtyDancing4Life.”
West Ham led through goals from Pablo Fornals and Said Benrahma, either side of a red card for Leicester’s Ayoze Perez after a tackle on Fornals which looked worse than it probably was.
Youri Tielemans hauled one back for the 10 men but Antonio stole the show with his late heroics.
Some 60,000 fans were in the London Stadium for the first time since February 2020, the vast majority of whom had not seen David Moyes’ well-drilled, exciting side who finished an improbable sixth last season, in the flesh.
This unloved stadium has struggled for atmosphere over the last five years, but when Antonio’s first goal made it 3-1 it was met with possibly the loudest roar heard here since Sir Mo Farah rounded the final bend on Super Saturday in 2012.
“I managed at Upton Park against West Ham, and I thought tonight was like Upton Park,” added Moyes. “The support was terrific, and the players really gave them something to cheer about.”
Antonio rounded off a thumping win when he flicked the ball above two Leicester defenders and beat Kasper Schmeichel to the ball before poking home.
Foxes boss Brendan Rodgers said: “Of course the result is disappointing. We made mistakes tonight and got punished, but after 69 minutes we were still in the game at 2-1, against a good side. Then we conceded the third goal which made it very difficult for us.
“Obviously the red card made it difficult but we have to accept we lost the game and get ready for the weekend.
On Perez’s red card, he added: “My thoughts were it was a foul. Ayoze is honestly trying to stay on his feet but he was unbalanced.
“He’s tried to stay on his feet because he’s been tripped, and of course it doesn’t look good on the replays.”
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