Hammers halt winless run
Deflected Behrami strike enough to stop the rot for West Ham
By Ben Collins. Last Updated: November 23, 2008 6:16pm
Behrami: Celebrates goal
Valon Behrami's first goal for West Ham was enough to give the Hammers their first win in eight games.
The visitors took the lead against the run of play with a deflected strike by the Swiss midfielder in the 20th minute.
Sunderland will be aggrieved that Hammers defender James Collins was not shown a red card for bringing down Djibril Cisse late in the first half.
But the Blacks Cats only have themselves to blame for not claiming a point they richly deserved as top scorer Cisse missed a host of chances on the way to their fourth defeat in five.
Victory eased the pressure on West Ham boss Gianfranco Zola and allowed the Hammers to leapfrog Sunderland into 13th place.
Sunderland made most of the running and their best early opportunity saw Cisse head narrowly over from Andy Reid's left-wing cross.
Kenwyne Jones had a shot blocked by Collins after combining well with Cisse but it was the visitors that opened the scoring following a free-kick by Julien Faubert.
Nyron Nosworthy cleared as far as Behrami on the edge of the box and his shot deflected off Jones past the hapless Martin Fulop in the Sunderland goal.
The Black Cats almost drew level immediately as Cisse headed wide from another Reid cross before Reid himself curled a 20-yard effort against the crossbar.
The home side were then angered by two dubious decisions by referee Mike Dean, with Collins appearing to pull down Jones in the box and then Cisse when he was through on goal, but Dean waved away the Black Cats' appeals.
Cisse fired into the side-netting as Sunderland remained on top while Danny Collins forced Robert Green to tip the ball over, yet West Ham should have gone into the break with a two-goal cushion after a slip by former Hammer Anton Ferdinand put Craig Bellamy clean through.
Although Bellamy took the ball round Fulop, he drifted wide and had to square for Behrami, who smashed the ball against the crossbar from six yards under close attention from a relieved Ferdinand.
Sunderland continued to dominate after the break and Cisse headed wide from a deep Phil Bardsley cross, while another Cisse header just after the hour mark failed to even cross the goal-line.
West Ham gained some respite as Lee Bowyer and the tireless Scott Parker were off target, before Sunderland made a double substitution with Carlos Edwards and Daryl Murphy replacing the impressive Reid and ineffective Steed Malbranque.
Bardsley lashed a 20-yard strike wide after exchanging passes with Edwards down the right and did likewise 10 minutes from time from an Edwards lay-off.
Yet for all their possession, Sunderland failed to seriously test Green in the West Ham goal and the visitors comfortably held on for the three points.
|Sunderland||Team Statistics||West Ham United|
|0||1st Half Goals||1|
|2||Shots on Target||1|
|13||Shots off Target||5|
Barclays Premier League
|15||West Bromwich Albion||15||15|
|17||West Ham United||15||13|