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Steve Blowers, Recorder Reporter
Saturday, January 12, 2013
Sunderland 3 West Ham United 0
West Ham were outpaced and outplayed as Sunderland eased to victory at the Stadium of Light.
The Hammers were totally frozen out on a dark and chilly afternoon at the Stadium of Light, where goals form Sebastian Larsson, Adam Johnson and James McClean sent Sam Allardyce’s side crashing to a dismal defeat.
Both teams had drawn their FA Cup third round ties 2-2, last Saturday and having seen his side so cruelly pegged back by Manchester United in stoppage time, Big Sam made two changes to his 11th-placed side as Winston Reid and Matt Jarvis came in for substitutes James Tomkins and Ricardo Vaz Te, who joined on-loan Marouane Chamakh and fit-again Mohamed Diame on the bench
Kicking off three places and four points behind the Hammers, Sunderland made three switches from the side that had fought back from a two-goal deficit to secure a home replay with Bolton Wanders as John O’Shea, Jack Colback and Man-of-the-Match Stephane Sessegnon returned in place of Carlos Cuellar, Danny Rose and substitute Phil Bardsley.
Certainly, the Black Cats started the liveliest and after seeing Adam Johnson fire inches wide and forcing a trio of early corners, it was no surprise, when the hosts broke the deadlock on 11 minutes.
Following a raid down the right flank, Alou Diarra must have thought he had thwarted the danger, when he headed clear but Larsson had other ideas and, after controlling the ball, he let fly with a rising 25-yarder that swerved through the freezing Wearside air and beyond the outstretched right palm of the diving Jussi Jaaskelainen.
Having fallen behind to the Swede’s first strike of the campaign, the Hammers desperately tried to get back on terms as Jarvis forced Mignolet into a low save and Titus Bramble bravely headed the ball off Carlton Cole’s studs.
But with the speedy Sessegnon willing to chase everything thrown forward, the impressive Reid was being kept on his toes and after the Sunderland striker drove just inches wide, James Collins then tweaked a hamstring trying to tackle the Benin-born striker on 34 minutes.
The Welshman hobbled away as Tomkins stepped from the dug-out and he soon found himself making last-ditch tackles on both Larsson and Steven Fletcher before Jaaskelainen’s assured stop prevented McClean from giving the Black Cats a two-goal interval lead with a low, angled 18-yarder.
Vaz Te replaced Jack Collison for the restart but the Portuguese playmaker did not even have time to find his feet on the freezing pitch as Sunderland quickly doubled their advantage.
Predictably, the superfast Sessegnon was the chief architect, raiding down the right flank before squaring to the unmarked McClean, whose low 15-yarder was superbly parried by the luckless Jaaskelainen and, with Danny Potts taking a touch too many trying to clear off the line, Fletcher nudged the ball to the supporting Johnson, who bundled his fourth goal of the season over the line.
Both Diarra and Tomkins were booked for felling David Vaughan in full flow, while Allardyce made his third and final substitution as Chamakh replaced the subdued Carlton Cole for the final 35 minutes.
As the hour mark approached, Jack Colback’s screaming effort was beaten out by Jaaskelainen, who then saw the Sunderland full back fire the rebound onto his left-hand post.
The Hammers were making little impression upon the hosts but after Jarvis forced their first corner of the afternoon, Diarra then saw his close range effort hacked clear before Joe Cole also scuffed wide.
At the other end, Reid finally had to resort to illegal means to stop Sessegnon bursting into the danger zone once more, while Fletcher also had an effort ruled out for offside.
Indeed, West Ham were already looking a well beaten side and although the East Enders packed into the stand high above Jaaskelainen’s goal continued to sing their hearts out, the sly Sessegnon well and truly put the result beyond doubt when he burst into the box and outfoxed all four Hammers defenders before rolling a pass to the far post, where McClean had the simplest of tap-ins.
With his side three goals ahead, Mignolet then produced two brilliant close-range stops to deny Vaz Te and then Tomkins late consolations but by then it was all over as a contest and the Hammers headed back to London knowing that a similar performance in Wednesday’s FA Cup replay at Old Trafford is just not an option.
BLACK CATS: Mignolet, Gardner, Colback, O’Shea, Bramble, Johnson (N’Diaye 84), McLean, Larsson, Vaughan, Fletcher (Wickham 79), Sessegnon (McFadden 88). Unused subs: Westwood, Bardsley, Campbell, Kilgallon.
HAMMERS: Jaaskelainen, Demel, Potts, Reid, Collins (Tomkins 34), Diarra, Nolan, Collison (Vaz Te h/t), Cole J. Jarvis, Cole C. (Chamakh 56) Unused subs: Spiegel, Taylor, Diame, O’Neil.
Bookings: Diarra (52), Tomkins (58), Reid (69)
Referee: Neil Swarbrick