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Match Report: Sunderland 1-2 West Ham United - Must Win Game Ends In Defeat, Obviously

Sunderland were defeated by West Ham at the Stadium of Light as in an important game the home side decided as is customary to be really, really shit for the most part.

Jan Kruger

Sunderland had a nightmare start at the Stadium Of Light as of all people Andy Carroll opened the scoring with just nine minutes on the clock.

Sunderland had had a couple of quarter chances, the best of which was a cross-come-shot from Phil Bardsley which swerved just too late to really bother Adrian.

However it was the Hammers who took the lead in the most straight-forward of circumstances. Having won a succession of corners after Stewart Downing skipped down the line, a high ball into the box was met by the biggest man on the pitch, Andy Carroll, to power a header past a helpless Vito Mannone.

A gutting moment for Sunderland fans everywhere seeing Carroll celebrate in front of the North Stand was made to feel even more worse a few minutes later when Sunderland missed an almost immediate chance to level things.

Connor Wickham fed Ki who powered his way in to the West Ham penalty area. Under pressure, the Korean knocked the ball inside to Fabio Borini. The Italian was unable to guide the ball goalwards, but it did manage to ricochet to an unmarked Lee Cattermole just eight yards from goal. The midfielder, yet to net in is Sunderland career, showed exactly that form as he side-footed straight at Adrian before blazing well wide on the rebound.

Sunderland continued to press, and with West Ham seemingly happy to sit back and remain compact, intent on hitting the home side on the counter-attack, Sunderland saw plenty of the ball. However, it was largely in and around the midfield area with the likes of Wes Brown and company, pumping long balls forward which never reached their intended targets. It was all very easy for the visitors to deal with.

At the height of this mild pressure Sunderland forced a pair of corners from which nothing of note materialized, which was incredibly disappointing. Mind you, not half as disappointing as being restricted by the visitors to Santaigo Vergini efforts from 35-yards which sailed harmlessly wide of Adrian's goal.

The counter-attacks which were a constant threat rarely came in the opening half an hour. Following Carroll's opener the only action of note for Vito Mannone was comfortably collecting a long range effort by Mohammed Diame.

From then on time seemed to just go on forever. The first half felt like one of the longest halves of football I've witnessed in a long time.

Constant long-balls into the area and poor crossing were all far too easy for the West Ham defence, especially when Borini is far from a physical threat and Wickham seemed unwilling to get his slicked-back hair out of place.

Sunderland had an appeal for a penalty turned down by Howard Webb when it was clear to all in sundry that Kevin Nolan had visibly moved his arm towards the box inside the area, and chicken-winged it away from danger as he is wont to do.

The half-time whistle drew audible jeers from the home-support for a an incredibly lackluster half in which Sunderland looked beaten and seemingly had no answers on how to break down a strong, but rarely tested visiting defence.

The second half started just like the first, with West Ham scoring and Sunderland fluffing their lines.

Andy Carroll again playing a pivotal part as he managed to knock the ball down into the path of an on-rushing Mohammed Diame who simply seemed to want the ball more than Santiago Vergini and it smuggled it's way to the corner of the net past a once again helpless Mannone.

Again as per the first half, Sunderland were presented with a good chance to get back in it moments after the goal. A cross from Lee Cattermole found Phil Bardsley in the box on his own however the defender opted to try and chest the ball rather than attempt a first time header and the ball rolled harmlessly wide as he was unable to control it.

Despite it being obvious from the start, eventually after 52-minutes Gus Poyet brought on Adam Johnson to replace Lee Cattermole, and it yielded a pair of chances for Marcos Alonso.

The first a powerful strike which curled away from goal but had Adrian scrambling and another which was deflected up and into the air, gathered by Adrian after the Spaniard and Carroll got in each others way trying to clear.

Things were almost ten times worse as on the counter-attack Vito Mannone made a magnificent save to deny Stewart Downing in a one-on-one. In a rare bit of good news, Howard Webb also failed to give West Ham a quite clear corner for the save.

Just when things seemed very boring and like West Ham were going to cruise to victory, Craig Gardner combined with fellow substitute Adam Johnson to claw a goal back. A nice touch inside to the former Manchester City man allowed him to take the ball in his stride inside the area and curl into the top corner beyond Adrian.

All of a sudden the atmosphere was more intensely positive and the air suggested Sunderland may have a chance. Unfortunately they found Adrian in top-top form.

Ki's strike from distance could have beaten the goalkeeper however it was palmed right into the path of Wickham who proceeded to fire straight into his body from close range, when the ball anywhere else would have leveled things.

Wickham atoned for this with a wonderful ball into Borini, in space, and bearing down on goal. The Italian's left-footed strike curled away from goal at the crucial moment. So close the entire East Stand thought it had gone in, alas it only rippled the wrong side of the side-netting.

As the final ten minutes dawned Sunderland were once again reduced to long-range efforts which failed to get anywhere near the target, Borini and Gardner both culpable on that front.

Johnson continued to be a thorn in the side of the visitors and was the source of anything positive or good that Sunderland managed.

His crosses caused a succession of corners which were attended by Vito Mannone in the final minutes. The presence of the Italian 'keeper didn't make a huge difference however as no real chance came barring Alonso's effort from fully 25-yards which went over.

The dying embers of the game saw Nacho Scocco head wide and Johnson himself snatch at an effort with the final kick of the game.

There was certainly a late rally, but for a solid 75-minutes of the game Sunderland were second-best to West Ham who coped pretty easily with everything the home side could throw at them.

As it is, it's looking more and more like Sunderland need a miracle to retain their Premier League status.

We'll have more reaction to tonight's match later, check it out in our stream HERE.

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