West Ham fight back to earn Sunderland draw
PUBLISHED: 17:09 03 October 2015
PA/Press Association Images
The Hammers had to battle from 2-0 down, but could have won this clash at the Stadium of Light
Sunderland 2 West Ham United 2
The Hammers finally switched on the power at the Stadium of Light, where Slaven Bilic’s side battled back from a dark two-goal deficit to rescue a point against the Black Cats, thanks to strikes from Carl Jenkinson and Dimitri Payet.
It had been a nightmare start for West Ham as the recalled Steven Fletcher pounced on some atrocious schoolboy-like marking to put Sunderland ahead with his second goal of the season before the Hammers also allowed Jeremain Lens to double his tally for the campaign with another gift of a goal midway through the opening period.
But Jenkinson gave the Hammers some second-half hope with his first-ever goal for the club right on the interval and, after Lens was dismissed following his second booking of the afternoon, Payet then struck on the hour to leave the ten-men desperately holding on for a point.
After hooking a hat-trick of away wins against the higher flying fish of Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City, the Hammers kicked-off in fourth-spot, looking to make it a four-timer at a sinking Sunderland, listing at the very bottom of Premier League pond.
Indeed, all eyes were on Black Cats boss, Dick Advocaat, whose tenure in the Stadium of Light hot-seat was looking in doubt after a win-less, seven-game opening to the campaign that had seen his team bag just two points.
And after a forlorn, three-goal defeat at Manchester United last time out, the Dutchman made a trio of switches with Fletcher, Sebastian Coates and DeAndre Yedlin replacing Adam Johnson, Younes Kaboul and substitute Patrick Van Aanholt, who took his seat on the bench alongside unused, former Upton Park goal ace, Jermain Defoe.
In the opposite dug-out - still enjoying his Hammers honeymoon period - Bilic had the luxury of naming an unchanged side following his team’s 2-2 draw against Norwich City last Saturday but he would have been less impressed with the self-induced pressure brought on by Mark Noble’s second-minute booking for tripping the fleeing Ola Toivonen.
Certainly, the captain’s caution set the tone for a scrappy opening period, however it was another foul by Jenkinson on Fabio Borini deep in the right-back’s territory that created real damage, for when Yann M’Vila sent the resultant low, free-kick towards the penalty spot, the unmarked Fletcher easily out-witted the flat-footed James Tomkins as he checked back from the six-yard line to drill the ball into the net.
Borini then ripped into the side-netting from a tight angle before West Ham allowed struggling Sunderland to double their advantage with another gift-wrapped goal on 22 minutes.
This time, Payet’s back-pass sold the sliding Winston Reid short and, with the Kiwi only managing to nudge the ball to M’Vila, in like a flash, Lens collected from his team-mate and cleverly clipped an inch-perfect 20-yarder over the advancing Adrian and in-off the crossbar.
Quite simply, the Hammers had pressed the self-destruct button with those two sloppy, suicidal pieces of defending and it could have got yet worse had Borini been wearing his shooting shoots.
Having been played in by Fletcher’s flick, the Italian only had Adrian to beat but he sent his low, 12-yard shot just an inch or so wide of the base of the right-hand post and then, as the interval approached, the Sunderland striker repeated the feat to gasps of red and white disappointment in the crowd of 42,932.
Amid a cocktail of frustration and determination, referee Neil Swarbrick was being kept busy, too, booking Reid for felling Fletcher before Lens and Aaron Cresswell illegally fouled each other and Lee Cattermole collected a customary caution for pile-driving Payet
Apart from Diafra Sakho’s skywards shot and an ambitious 35-yarder from Manuel Lanzini, West Ham had barely threatened but, first-half stoppage time, Victor Moses danced into the left-hand side of the Black Cats area before cutting the ball back to the penalty spot, where the supporting Jenkinson slammed home his first goal for the club.
From being in total control, that timely strike certainly created waves of uncertainty for the hosts, who then saw Payet curl an early second-half free-kick into Costel Pantilimon’s gloves.
Lanzini also embarked upon a mazy run before shooting just a whisker wide from 25 yards and, when Lens collected a second yellow card for needlessly ploughing through the back of Reid on the edge of the Hammers area on 57 minutes, the Wearsiders had every reason to be worried.
Indeed, the ten remaining men only held on for another three minutes until it proved third time lucky for Lanzini, who trying his luck from distance, yet again, saw Pantilimon fail to hold the scorching shot and Payet gleefully side-footed the loose ball past the red-faced Sunderland stopper.
With Nikica Jelavic having replaced Moses, the Croatian agonisingly hooked over from a couple of yards and then he also glanced a header beyond the far post as West Ham, who switched Reid with James Collins, went for the kill.
Referee Swarbrick was still being kept busy as Jenkinson was cautioned for his tackle on Billy Jones, while Coates took out the galloping Lanzini and, with Noble on a disciplinary knife-edge, too, Mauro Zarate was sensibly called from the dug-out to replace his skipper.
Ten minutes from time, Cresswell’s 25-yarder was held by Pantilimon, who also denied Zarate, while Jelavic also sent a couple of late headers wide but, in the end, despite Bilic’s uninvited arrival on the pitch in an effort to speed things up, Advocaat’s ten men still held out for a draw.
BLACK CATS: Pantilimon, Jones, Yedlin, Coates, O’Shea, Cattermole, Toivonen (Larsson 84), Lens, M’Vila (Gomez 90+4), Fletcher (Rodwell 84), Borini. Unused subs: Mannone, Aanholt, Brown, Defoe.
HAMMERS: Adrian, Jenkinson, Cresswell, Reid (Collins 65), Tomkins, Moses (Jelavic 57), Kouyate, Noble (Zarate 78), Lanzini, Payet, Sakho. Unused subs: Randolph, Obiang, Antonio, Oxford.
Booked: Noble (2), Reid (23), Lens (31), Cresswell (36), Cattermole (43), Jenkinson (71), Coates (73).
Sent Off: Lens (57)
Referee: Neil Swarbrick