Downing strike earns away point

Barclays Premier League
Sunderland 1-1 West Ham United

West Ham United battled back from a goal behind against Sunderland to secure a 1-1 Barclays Premier League draw at the Stadium of Light on Saturday.

After James Tomkins was harshly adjudged to have felled Adam Johnson in the box, Jordi Gomez set the hosts on their way with a 21st-minute penalty. 

But Sam Allardyce's men trailed for just eight minutes, as Stewart Downing's deflected drive nestled in the far corner of Costel Pantilimon's goal. The stalemate extends the Hammers' unbeaten sequence to four, while they have now suffered just one defeat in their last ten.      

On the back of his destructive second-half display against Swansea City, Diafra Sakho was restored to the starting XI, with Enner Valencia the man to make way. And looking to pick up where they left off on Sunday, the Hammers thrice created presentable openings in the first ten minutes here. 

Sakho firstly hared down the right and brilliantly picked out Andy Carroll, who sought to find the opposite corner, but headed into the arms of Pantilimon.

Then Carl Jenkinson tested the former Manchester City stopper. Pouncing on Anthony Reveillere's poor header, the full-back's side-footed effort was palmed away. And arguably the best of the bunch followed, when Carroll met Downing's left-wing cross squarely on the forehead, but powered it over the top.   

Not that West Ham were having it all their own way, with Johnson's right-wing cross hanging invitingly in the air for Connor Wickham, who glanced a header wide of Adrian's right-hand upright. 

Johnson was in the thick of it again after 21 minutes, twisting and turning in the Hammers box, before tumbling under the faintest of Tomkins challenges. Referee Phil Dowd obliged and Gomez promptly sent Adrian the wrong way from 12 yards. 

The Mackems' lead, however, lasted just eight minutes, with Downing taking matters into his own hands. Once a Sunderland player himself, the 30-year-old cut inside onto his left foot and let fly, with a telling deflection off Gomez's boot taking it beyond the dive of Pantilimon.    

An open game to this point and so it continued, with a long ball over the top setting Sakho away, only for the Senegalese to blast wide from the right-hand side of the box. 

At the other end, Gomez flashed one across the face, though there was no-one in a red and white shirt to turn it home. And with the final action of the half, Seb Larsson skipped to the byline and squared for Jozy Altidore, who looked certain to score, but somehow failed to make any meaningful contact whatsoever.    

The second half began in strange fashion, with Winston Reid coming off worse in an awkward tangle with Wes Brown, as the duo prepared to contest a Hammers corner. After lengthy treatment, the New Zealander was eventually given the all clear to continue. 

Larsson, meanwhile, tried his luck from 20 yards, but crashed his shot into a West Ham wall. Moments later and Song was adjudged to have handled on the edge of the box, gifting Johnson a good-looking opportunity to the right of centre. Thankfully, his free-kick was straight at Adrian, who punched it clear of danger.      

For their part, West Ham had a gilt-edged chance on the hour, when Aaron Cresswell found himself closing in on the six-yard box, but his attempted cut-back was blocked and the chance gone.   

In the 64th minute the visitors went closer still. This time Carroll picked up the pieces in the box and dinked a measured effort over Pantilimon, only to narrowly clear the crossbar too. Having weathered an early second-half storm, the Hammers were well on top by now and some excellent build-up play culminated in a deflected Carroll header drifting wide.

Sunderland were soon appealing for a second spot-kick of the afternoon when Santiago Vergini's right-wing cross inadvertently struck the arm of Reid, but on this occasion Dowd was unmoved.   

Big Sam introduced Valencia for the final ten minutes, but it was Sunderland who came desperately close to snatching it. Wickham collected the second ball 20 yards from goal and only a stunning Adrian stop prevented his rocket from flying in.

Carroll subsequently saw a side-footer from the edge of the box drift inches past the upright of Pantilimon's goal, but the Hammers would ultimately have to settle for a share of the spoils.    

Sunderland: Pantilimon, Cattermole, Larsson, Wickham, Johnson (Alvarez 70), Gomez, Reveillere, O'Shea, Altidore (Fletcher 62), Vergini
Subs: Mannone, Bridcutt, Rodwell, Coates, Buckley

Goal: Gomez 21

Booked: Gomez, Wickham

West Ham United: Adrian, Jenkinson, Tomkins, Reid, Cresswell, Song, Kouyate, Nolan (c) (Valencia 81), Downing, Sakho, Carroll
Subs: Jaaskelainen, Zarate, O'Brien, Collins, Amalfitano, Cole

Goal: Downing 29

Booked: Reid, Downing

Referee: Phil Dowd