West Ham 1-0 Sunderland: Michail Antonio strike leaves the Black Cats struggling

first_imgWest Ham United kept their faint hopes of Champions League qualification alive with a 1-0 victory over basement battlers Sunderland at Upton Park.The Black Cats, managed by former Hammers boss Sam Allardyce, were the architects of their own downfall in east London as a Patrick van Aanholt mistake was punished by Michail Antonio in the first half.But the relegation threatened Wearsiders will have been buoyed by an otherwise decent defensive display as they snuffed out Dimitri Payet and Manuel Lanzini for the majority of the match.West Ham, though, appear a little rusty and had it not been for some poor finishing could quite easily have lost the match.Prior to the match the talk was all about the returning Allardyce and the tactics he once deployed at the Boelyn Ground. And it was just ten seconds before the first long ball hurtled towards James Collins and Angelo Ogbonna in the Hammers defence, while within three minutes they’d already faced, and cleared, two corners as Sunderland went at their opponents.But Wahbi Khazri proved it wouldn’t just be an aerial threat which West Ham had to deal with, as he danced his way down the right flank before watching his cross clipped away from goal by Collins.The home side looked rusty, despite it being their opponents who were coming off the back of a two week break, but Vito Mannone produced a stunning save to deny a swerving drive from Mark Noble.Khazri then went close with a free-kick, which dropped onto the bar, after he’d come close to robbing Hammers goalkeeper Adrian who had decided, incorrectly, that juggling the ball in his six-yard box was a good idea.All Sunderland’s good defending was undone after 30 minutes, though, as Patrick van Aanholt failed to deal with Sam Byram’s aimless lob upfield, allowing Michail Antonio to weave his way into the box from the right before curling a daisycutter into the far corner, as Mannone failed to react.Jermain Defoe looked a lonely figure as another careless pass forward evaded his grasp, while at the opposite end Mannone skidded down to his left to palm an Antonio snapshot away from goal as he looked to stop matters getting worse for the Black Cats.After the break ex-Hammer Defoe spurned two excellent opportunities but hit them both wide of the target, although he was ruled offside following the second chance, while Van Aanholt failed to atone for his earlier error, blasting over when well placed.Sunderland looked the far brighter of the sides but Dame N’Doye wasted a free-kick after shoving Khrazi to one side, while Yann M’Vila’s curled strike from range failed to trouble Adrian.Bilic threw Andy Carroll and Victor Moses into the fray as he looked to curtail the visitors’ dominance but the Black Cats remained resurgent with substitute Jack Rodwell excellently denied by Adrian with 17 minutes left on the clock.Carroll nearly put the game beyond them moments later but his shinned volley from a Byram knockdown left the crossbar rattling, and as the game sprang to life, Rodwell saw a shot deflected over as West Ham fans held their breath.Allardyce’s side turned the screw again in the closing stages but could not produce the moment of magic needed to beat Adrian, who saved again from N’Doye to keep out Sunderland and leave them second from bottom. West Ham players celebrate Michail Antonio’s goal 1last_img

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