Premier League - Sunderland see off West Ham

Sun, 05 Dec 18:48:00 2010

England midfielder Jordan Henderson struck the only goal as Sunderland beat West Ham 1-0 in the Premier League at the Stadium of Light.

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Henderson scored in the 34th minute to send Sunderland seventh in the table, while West Ham returned to the bottom on goal difference after their recent revival came to a halt.

Hammers coach Wally Downes has received much praise after his arrival coincided with last weekend's victory against Wigan and the 4-0 thrashing of Manchester United in the Carling Cup.

Certainly, the Hammers appeared better organised defensively than in their meek surrender to Liverpool last month.

Sunderland saw plenty of possession but struggled to penetrate the mass ranks of defenders at the edge of the box.

Darren Bent hit a dipping 25-yarder straight at Robert Green, while the England keeper fielded a long shot from Lee Cattermole.

The visitors' men-behind-the-ball approach was neither sophisticated nor elegant, but it did the job for a good half-hour until Henderson's first goal of the season gave Sunderland the lead.

Asamoah Gyan fractionally beat the offside trap to make a run down the right wing, and pulled back a neat cross to the unmarked Henderson who guided a left sidefoot into the far corner.

Gyan nearly made it two soon after, lofting an audacious 35-yard shot that clipped the bar on its way over.

West Ham's gameplan had to change after going behind. They were effectively playing a 4-5-1 formation with the less-than-prolific Carlton Cole as a target man up front.

Wide men Luis Boa Morte and Victor Obinna were given greater licence to roam forwards, while Scott Parker grew in influence through the middle.

Defender-turned-midfielder Jonathan Spector scored twice in the demolition of United, and nearly found the net again with a barrelling run and a shot that rolled just wide of the left-hand post.

Cole dragged a shot just wide on 49 minutes, although he was extremely lucky not to be sent off.

He was booked for raking his studs down John Mensah's Achilles, and could have seen a second yellow for a stupid handball on 57 minutes or for his foul-mouthed protest late on when a decision from referee Martin Atkinson went against him.

As West Ham pressed forward, they left spaces at the back. Kieran Richardson had a 25-yard drive saved, while Gyan tested Green, and Henderson and Bent made a fearful hash of a two-on-one counter-attack.

Danny Welbeck also missed a glorious opportunity after Green spilled a ball and the Sunderland man had the goal at his mercy, but his shot was blocked by James Tomkins.

Obinna came closest to an equaliser with a shot that grazed the outside of the post, and the match nearly ended in farce when a wild attempted clearance by Parker forced Green into a good save.

Alex Chick / Eurosport

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