London - Michail Antonio struck as West Ham
United enhanced their European qualifying hopes and snuffed out Sunderland's
recent mini-revival with a 1-0 victory on Saturday.
The former Nottingham Forest midfielder
scored in the 30th minute, clinically punishing a loose clearance by Patrick
van Aanholt to take his tally for the east London club to five goals.
Slaven Bilic's side climbed to fifth place
in the Premier League, supplanting Manchester United in the Europa League
berth, and closed to within four points of the Champions League places.
Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce met with
defeat on his return to Upton Park and has now seen his team go 14 matches
without a clean sheet in all competitions.
Sunderland, who had drawn 2-2 at Liverpool
and beaten Manchester United 2-1 on their two previous outings, remain a point
A sleepy game leapt to life in the 19th
minute when Manuel Lanzini teed up Mark Noble for a first-time drive that
Sunderland goalkeeper Vito Mannone brilliantly tipped onto the visitors' bar.
Mannone's opposite number, Adrian, gave the
home fans a scare when he elected to perform some kick-ups after receiving a
back-pass, allowing Wahbi Khazri to charge down his attempted clearance.
Moments later, Khazri almost embarrassed
the Spaniard with an opportunistic free-kick from deep on the right that hit
the top of the crossbar.
But it was West Ham who made the
breakthrough after Van Aanholt failed to get enough purchase on the ball as he
attempted to clear Sam Byram's hopeful pass down the hosts' right flank.
Antonio picked up the pieces, leaving Van
Aanholt trailing by languidly dragging the ball onto his left foot and then
curling a low shot into the bottom-left corner.
Like Allardyce, Jermain Defoe was up
against his former club and he spurned a chance to equalise early in the second
half when he lashed wide after James Collins had misjudged Lee Cattermole's
Van Aanholt and Yann M'Vila also shot
off-target as Sunderland began to make inroads, while Adrian saved sharply with
his feet from Jack Rodwell.
West Ham substitute Andy Carroll almost
made the game safe when he met Byram's knock-down with a full-blooded volley,
but the ball cannoned back into play off the bar.
Back at the other end, Byram thwarted
Rodwell and Adrian saved one-handed from Dame N'Doye, before Dimitri Payet went
close to swelling the hosts' lead by flashing a left-foot volley narrowly wide.