West Ham left it late to get their first win of 2015, thanks to Diafra Sakho’s 88th minute strike. The visitors were stubborn at the back for much of the evening in what was Dick Advocaat’s first match in charge of Sunderland.
West Ham came into the match in rather poor form with the Hammers winless in seven top flight matches and also the Black Cats, who sacked coach Gustavo Poyet after last weekend’s 4-0 defeat at home to Aston Villa.
West Ham’s poor form has seen them drop out of contention for the European places and into a mid-table position.
Former Netherlands boss Advocaat was appointed as Sunderland’s head coach on Tuesday, following Gus Poyet’s departure a day earlier, but saw his Premier League debut was to end in disappointment at Upton Park.
Dick Advocaat went for 4-3-3 and made no change to the team that conceeded four goals last weekend except Lee Catermole, who was unavailable as he continues to serve a suspension. Sunderland, have scored just one goal in their last five premier league matches with Jermain Defoe failing to have the impact that was hoped far ahead of his transfer from Toronto.
The game began with Big Sam’s side labour in the first half, Sam Allardyce opted to replace Matt Jarvis with Carlton Cole at the interval though it proved to have little impact, the Hammers huffed and puffed, but barely looked like blowing the visitors’ house down, despite them producing 25 crosses before the break.
It was the Senegalese striker, Sakho who made the most of slack Sunderland defending in the final minute of normal time on Saturday after the visitors looked to have seen the game out for a draw.
As the minutes ticked close to the end, so did West Ham’s pressure began to build as Sakho glanced a header inches past the post, before two strong penalty appeals were turned down by referee Lee Mason.
The Hammers were not to be denied a morale boosting victory, though, and with just two minutes left a neat move on the edge of the Sunderland box involving substitute Nene and Mark Noble saw the latter’s lovely flick play Sakko through, with the Senegalese making no mistake by firing low past a helpless Pantilimon for his 12th goal of the campaign and thereby extending Sunderland’s winless league run to seven matches on a day when fellow strugglers Burnley, Leicester City and Aston Villa were all beaten.
The defeat keeps Advocaat’s side just one point above the relegation zone, while West Ham move up to ninth in the table.