West Ham moved up to fifth in the Premier League table after Michail Antonio’s first-half strike gave them a narrow 1-0 win over Sunderland at Upton Park on Saturday.
- West Ham 1 Sunderland 0
- Both sides hit woodwork early on
- Antonio fires the Hammers ahead
- Carroll rattles crossbar in second half
- Hammers now 5th, Cats stay in drop zone
Antonio curled home after a mistake from Black Cats defender Patrick van Aanholt in a true game of two halves as West Ham largely dominated before the break, only for Sunderland to argue that were worth a share of the spoils after a much improved second-half performance.
The opening exchanges of the match were largely forgettable in windy conditions at Upton Park, before the woodwork was struck at either end in the space of just three minutes.
It was the home side who came close to opening the scoring when Manuel Lanzini skipped past a couple of challenges on the edge of the area before teeing up Mark Noble 25 yards out but the midfielder’s fierce strike was finger-tipped onto the crossbar by Vito Mannone.
Sunderland, who were seeing very little of the ball, did produce a worrying moment for home fans though when new signing Wahbi Khazri curled a free-kick over home goalkeeper Adrian but his effort clipped the top of the crossbar.
But Slaven Bilic’s men deservedly broke the deadlock on the half-hour mark when poor defending from van Aanholt allowed Antonio to burst into the area before the winger produced a controlled, curling finish into the far corner.
Antonio almost grabbed a second when his turn and shot on the edge of the box was pushed around the post by Mannone as West Ham continued to carry the greater threat in attack going into the half-time break.
There was an early opening for the visitors at the start of the second period, however, when a ball over the top from Lee Cattermole beat James Collins’ mistimed jump and found Jermain Defoe, but the former England striker pulled his shot well wide when he should have at least hit the target.
Khazri then blazed over the bar as Sunderland began to dominate proceedings, so much so that Bilic turned to Andy Carroll off the bench in place of the ineffective Emmanuel Emenike.
The home side suffered a blow when Sam Byram picked up his 10th booking of the season to trigger a two-match ban as he fouled Defoe on the edge of the area, but Khazri’s resulting free-kick was easily held by Adrian.
The Hammers stopper was involved again moments later when Deandre Yedlin’s cut back from the right found Jack Rodwell eight yards out but the substitute’s drive was kept out by the feet of Adrian.
West Ham came so close to wrapping up the points with 13 minutes to go though when Noble’s ball to the back post was headed back across goal by Byram but Carroll’s volley from six yards out crashed against the bar, before Rodwell saw an effort deflected over at the other end.
Sam Allardyce’s men were certainly much improved in the second half and they went close again when Dame N’Doye found himself free on the right but his sidefooter across Adrian was well pushed out.
But despite late pressure on the home goal, West Ham managed to hold out for a crucial three points in their bid for European football, although for Sunderland it was another away defeat and they remain in trouble at the wrong end of the table.