West Ham United 1 Sunderland 0
Saturday, 27th February 2016
by Staff Writer
West Ham extended their unbeaten run in the Premier League to five games - albeit in rather fortuitous circumstances against ten men Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.After 22 minutes of today's game the chances of Slaven Bilic's side extending their run of games without tasting defeat looked decidedly slim, thanks to early goals from Stephen Fletcher and Jeremain Lens.
However replies from Carl Jenkinson and Dimitri Payet ensured West Ham left the North East with a share of the spoils against a Black Cats team still looking for their first Premier League win of the season.
The home side, who went into the game having taken just two points from their opening seven games took the lead with just nine minutes on the clock.
Carl Jenkinson, who has looked decidedly shaky this season conceded an unnecessary free kick to the left of West Ham's penalty area. The resulting set piece was subsequently whipped in towards the penalty spot, where it was turned home by Stephen Fletcher.
"To err once is human but to err twice is stupidity", goes the old adage - and West Ham's defence was left looking very silly after a dreadful cross field ball by Dimitri Payet on 22 minutes was too short for a lunging Winston Reid, who was beaten to it by Jeremain Lens.
And the Dutchman then left goalkeeper Adrian red-faced when he spotted the Spaniard off his line before coolly lobbing him to double the home side's advantage, with less than a quarter of the game gone.
The goalscorer was booked ten minutes after scoring his goal - one of five yellow cards distributed by referee Neil Swarbrick in the opening half. It was a card that proved to be instrumental in the second period.
Despite being battered by their hosts in the opening 45 minutes, West Ham somehow managed to claw a goal back in first half injury time when Victor Moses found the byeline before pulling the ball back for Jenkinson, who fired beyond Costel Pantilimon.
Quite what the right back was doing in the centre forward position at that stage remains a mystery, but it was certainly a welcome intervention as far as West Ham were concerned.
The home side started the second half brightly but their role as an attacking force was over just 13 minutes after the restart when Lens was dismissed for a second bookable offence - in referee Swarbrick's mind, at least.
With enthusiasm renewed by their numerical advantage, it took Bilic's side just two minutes to score what proved to be the game's final goal. Manuel Lanzini, who had been taking pot shots at Pantilimon from the start saw a 25-yard effort spilled, which Payet - anonymous prior to that moment but first to react- converted from close range.
From that point on there was only ever one team likely to score the deciding goal, but Bilic's side remained frustrated until the final whistle despite ending the game with three strikers on the pitch in Diafra Sakho, Mauro Zarate and Nikica Jelavic.
In the end, a point and a five-game unbeaten run should perhaps be considered a good return.
However concerns regarding West Ham's defensive weaknesses continue to be raised, with the Hammers now having conceded 11 goals in their first eight fixtures - the same as 17th-placed West Brom and one more than Stoke, currently in 14th.
Despite dropping two points, West Ham remain fifth in the Premier League table with 14 points from eight games - four fewer than current leaders Manchester City.
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Player RatingsAdrian San Miguel Del Castillo
Made a number of good saves and, whilst the corner that led to their second may have been going wide, it was close enough to worry about so we?EUR(TM)ll give him that one.
Another so so game. There were spells when he looked great, others when he seemed to lack concentration.
Had his moments going forward but had some shaky oned as well in defence.
The pick of the defenders ?EUR" again ?EUR" though he struggled against sub Mbokani who jumped at Reid pretty much every time they clashed.
Reasonable game but we?EUR(TM)ll draw a veil over that shot from 30 yards shall we?
Kept plugging away and might have had more than the one goal that he got.
The passing game was not up to scratch today. Got a lot of break-up challenges in but was culpable to one extent or another for both goals.
Created one chance for Sakho but otherwise a quiet game.
Another not quite up to the heights he can reach but still not a bad game until he was subbed.
Not quite as dominant as he has been of late but still at the heart of all our good moments. MOTM
The work he puts in is astounding. Held the ball up well and brought others into play.
(Replaced) Still not quite there and who else held their breath when he went down in the second half. However, he caused a major nuisance and his presence led to the equaliser.
(Replaced) Looked sharp when he was on which made me wonder how things would have transpired had he come on earlier
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Match FactsWest Ham United: Adrian San Miguel Del Castillo, Carl Jenkinson, Aaron Cresswell, Winston Reid, James Tomkins, Cheikhou Kouyate, Mark Noble, Victor Moses, Manuel Lanzini, Dimitri Payet, Diafra Sakh0.
Goals: Diafra Sakho 33 Cheikhou Kouyate 90 .
Sent off: None.
Subs not used: .
Sent off: None.
Referee: Neil Swarbrick.
Man of the Match: Dimitri Payet.