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Sunderland v West Ham Utd: half time report

Filed: Sunday, 23rd November 2008
By: Staff Writer

Gianfranco Zola's Hammers find themselves ahead at the break thanks to Valon Behrami's first Premier League goal.

However the Swiss international should have been celebrating a first half double when he missed an absolute sitter in the second minute of first half injury time.

With both sides in desperate need of points, it promised to be a lively encounter. The first half, at least has lived up to the pre-match billing with both sides producing fully committed performances.

Roy Keane's Sunderland have enjoyed the greater possession and chances but it is the Hammers who go into the break with a precious lead thanks to Behrami's 20th minute opening goal. It came from a Julien Faubert free kick which was only half cleared to the grateful Behrami, who fired through a crowd of bodies to register his first league goal for the Hammers (albeit with a slight deflection off the ankle of Sunderland's Kenwyn Jones).

Sunderland created a number of chances in the half but a combination of poor finishing and solid defending ensured the Hammers go into the break ahead. Andy Reid - who constantly tormented United skipper Lucas Neill throughout the first period - hit the bar with a curling, dipping effort from the edge of the box with Rob Green stranded on 27 minutes.

Meanwhile Djibril Cisse and Jones both missed a hatful of chances as the Hammers defence began to creak under pressure; Cisse missed one particularly glorious opportunity to level terms towards the end of the half with a free header.

West Ham, so good until the final third where they too often failed to deliver from promising positions should have doubled their lead two minutes into injury time when former Hammer Anton Ferdinand let Craig Bellamy in whilst dallying on the ball. Fortunately for Anton he recovered in time to do enough to put Valon Behrami - supplied by Bellamy yards from goal - off of his shot which hit the bar when it was easier to score. In the Swiss midfielder's defence, the ball took a nasty bobble just as he was lining up his effort.

All in all the Hammers will have to pick up in the second period if they are to preserve their slender lead; we'll have more for you at the final whistle.

West Ham United: Green, Neill, Collins, Upson, Ilunga, Faubert, Parker, Bowyer, Behrami, Bellamy, Cole

Substitutes: Lastuvka, Mullins, Davenport, Collison, Boa Morte, Di Michele, Sears

Sunderland: Fulop, Bardsley, Nosworthy, Ferdinand, Collins, Malbranque, Whitehead, Reid, Richardson, Jones, Cisse

Substitutes: Colgan, Tainio, Edwards, Diouf, Meyler, Colback, Henderson

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