Sunderland V West Ham

Post Match Comments
Audio Match ReportSaturday 17th February 2001
Stadium Of Light

West Ham United fully deserved their place in the FA Cup quarter-finals after an impressive 1-0 fifth round victory at Sunderland.       .

Recording their first win since that epic fourth round victory at Manchester United three weeks ago, Hammers fully repaid the faith of their 6,000 travelling fans, many of whom set off before daylight to attend the noon cup-tie kick-off some 300 miles away at the Stadium of Light.

Harry Redknapp made a point of paying tribute to the supporters afterwards, saying:

"We knew how many were coming today and they were marvellous once again. It was great to see so many of them cheering us on.

The Hammers boss also had plenty of praise for his players, who have now won all three FA Cup matches away from home this year.

Said H: "It's a great result for us. It was a tough cup draw but we've come up here and deserved to win.

"We started really well and had a few chances - at half-time I was a bit disappointed that we weren't in front.

"I always felt confident we could win though, I think we can go anywhere and get a result with the players that I have got."

Harry reserved special mention for Stuart Pearce, who was quite simply phenomenal as Sunderland threw everything forward in their search for an equaliser in the last 10 minutes.

"Arsene Wenger had the easiest job in the world when he went to Arsenal because he had Tony Adams in the dressing-room and that is what I have got here with Stuart Pearce.

"He is just so special and you don't have to worry about coaching when you have got people like him around. You just tell the kids to look at his example and try to copy it.

"He came back from two broken legs last season at the age of 38 and has been magnificent all season.

"In his prime he was the best left-back in the world - and I don't care if you mention Paolo Maldini, I know who I'd rather play against.

"I thought the whole defence were tremendous today though. Igor Stimac has been injured for months but he came back today and was outstanding.

"The three young lads in midfield were fantastic and you've always got a chance with players like Di Canio and Kanoute up front."

Understandably though, Harry was coy when pressed on the possibility that his team's name could be on the FA Cup this year.

"You never know" he smiled. "Let's just wait and see what comes next. We'll hope for a decent draw in the next round and go from there.

"At the moment it's just nice to be in there and I'm delighted that we have come up here and turned on a great performance in front of the fans."

The winner came in the 75th minute, when Fredi Kanoute, guilty of two glaring misses and most of the 13 offside decisions given against the visitors, slotted the ball low and beyond keeper Sorensen after Frank Lampard's through ball.

Harry Redknapp adopted the same tactics used to such great effect at Old Trafford. Kanoute operated as the lone striker, with Paolo Di Canio and Joe Cole working hard in slightly withdrawn roles on the left and right respectively.The only change from Manchester saw Igor Stimac recalled to the middle of the back three in place of the unlucky Hannu Tihinen.

The strategy worked almost to perfection as Sunderland - beaten only once at home all season, by Man United - failed to carve out even one really decent chance in the first half. As expected, Peter Reid's side relied heavily on their favoured long-ball game, trying to find big Niall Quinn, but Stuart Pearce, Stimac and Christian Dailly coped admirably with the predictable aerial threat.

There was little between the sides in terms of first half possession but West Ham created the most clear-cut chances on the break. Twice in the first 10 minutes Kanoute was put through on goal, by Dailly and Michael Carrick,  but wasted those gilt-edged openings. He shot straight at Sorensen's legs first time, then scuffed a left foot shot wide.

The French striker was too often his own worst enemy. Although he always had the beating of Sunderland's back four, he regularly strayed offside with mistimed runs. His pace and strength took its toll, however, on Slovakian Varga, who limped off injured after just 21 minutes.

Sunderland had to get better and dominated possession early in the second half without creating too much to concern Hammers. Quinn spurned their best chance, failing to control Makin's lofted through-ball, and Shaka Hislop raced off his line to collect the ball.

West Ham squandered an even better chance to take the lead after 71 minutes, when Lampard, making another intelligent midfield run, ran on to Nigel Winterburn's perfectly weighted pass but could only shoot tamely at Sorensen's legs with his left foot.

Quinn proved a nuisance again three minutes later when, with Sebastien Schemmel failing to clear the danger at the far post, he hooked the ball back across goal for striker partner Phillips, only for the courageous Pearce to head clear from under his own crossbar.

It was a big moment in the game, for Lampard won possession on halfway and eluded three Sunderland players before rolling a pass in for Kanoute. The Frenchman once again strode clear of his marker and this time he slotted the ball past Sorensen from the edge of the box.

Kanoute should have made it 2-0 just moments later, but dragged his right foot shot just wide of the far post.

Sunderland's reponse was, surprise, surprise, to bring on another beanpole striker in Dichio and you wondered if Redknapp would counter by introducing either Tihinen or Ian Pearce to help reinforce the backline, but his subs - including Davor Suker - remained on the bench.

Apart from a low drive by Schwarz that Hislop comfortably gathered, the Black Cats went out with barely a whimper.

West Ham's man of the match? Everyone did their job well, Kanoute could have had a hat-trick, Pearce defended heroically but Lampard - who combined hard work with creativity and the pass for the goal - was outstanding.

On the final whistle, the men in claret and blue turned to the away end to salute the fans who filled both tiers of the stand. Di Canio and Schemmel both threw their shirts into the crowd, who responded with that now familiar FA Cup chant: "1-0 to the Cockney Boys!"