Sunderland 1-2 West Ham United
Barclays Premier League
West Ham United moved a step closer to securing their Barclays Premier League future with a valuable 2-1 win at struggling Sunderland on Monday night.
Andy Carroll enjoyed a fruitful return to the north east, scoring the first and setting up Mohamed Diame's second as the Hammers took a two-goal lead moments after the half-time interval.
Sunderland responded strongly to cut the deficit through Adam Johnson, and although they upped the pressure as they searched for the goal to help their survival bid, the Londoners stood firm to take the points back south.
The Black Cats began at pace as they looked to put the Hammers under pressure early on and Phil Bardsley was not far away with a swerving cross which flew wide of the far post after he received a raking pass from Liam Bridcutt in the right channel.
Sunderland could probably lay claim to making the brighter start, yet they found themselves behind with just nine minutes on the clock thanks to Carroll's bullet header from close range.
Home keeper Vito Mannono got his hands to Carroll's effort following a Mark Noble corner, but the big No9 was so close to goal when he met the inswinging delivery that there was little the stopper could do to keep the ball from entering his net.
Three minutes later, Sunderland were presented with a great chance to force a quick leveller when Ki Sung-Yueng made strides down the left and cut the ball back across the penalty box. It fell to Lee Cattermole at the far post, but his first effort was directed straight at Adrian's legs, while he swiped the rebound over the top.
That was a let-off for the Hammers, and Sunderland were granted a reprieve of their own with 19 minutes on the clock as Taylor powered an effort inches wide of the mark after Mark Noble burst into the box to collect Kevin Nolan's pass and roll square to his fellow midfielder.
The first half then settled into a rhythm of Sunderland seeing more of the ball, but West Ham defending relatively comfortably, although they did survive a strong penalty shout from the home side when, with 37 minutes played, Nolan appeared to lean into the ball with his arm as John O'Shea looked to knock a partially-cleared corner back into the mixer.
Pablo Armero replaced George McCartney at the break, and Big Sam was able to celebrate a second Hammers goal not long after.
Carroll was heavily involved again, getting up well to knock James Tomkins' free-kick from deep into Diame's path, and the Senegal midfielder produced a first time shot which took a nick off Santiago Vergini and rolled into the bottom left corner.
WIth an hour played Stewart Downing was a whisker away from ending the game as a contest when Noble picked him out with a diagonal ball out to the right. Downing ran in on goal and looked to side-foot it towards the bottom left corner, but Mannone got fingertips to the shot to divert it off course.
Five minutes later and Sunderland were back in it, as substitutes Craig Gardner and Johnson combined to devastating effect. Johnson's finish was unerring as he curled into the top left corner after Gardner's pass slipped him clear inside the area.
The home crowd were up and they nearly had more cause to cheer on 68 minutes as Adrian could not hold on to Ki's effort from outside the box, and he had to spring up quickly to block Connor Wickham's follow up.
Fabio Borini then fired into the side-netting as he threatened to run clear of Guy Demel in the left channel as Gus Poyet's side upped the intensity.
Marcos Alonso drilled over the crossbar as the home side's desperation for an equaliser grew and Ignacio Scocco nodded over, but there was no way through as the Hammers held out to take maximum points.
Sunderland: Mannone; Vergini, O'Shea (Gardner 60), Brown; Bardsley, Bridcutt, Cattermole (Johnson 53), Alonson; Borini, Ki (Scocco 79); Wickham
Subs: Ustari, Colback, Altidore, Cuellar
Goal: Johnson 65
Booked: Alonso, Wickham
West Ham United: Adrian; Demel, Tomkins, Reid, McCartney (Armero 46); Nolan (Nocerino 83), Noble, Taylor; Downing, Carroll, Diame (Johnson 78)
Subs: Jaaskelainen, Jarvis, C.Cole, J.Cole
Goals: Carroll 9, Diame 50
Booked: Noble, Nolan, Reid, Adrian
Referee: Howard Webb