sport

Battling loss for Sunderland

Andy Carroll helped to nudge Sunderland closer to the relegation trapdoor as West Ham all but secured their own Premier League status with a 2-1 win at the Stadium of Light.

The England striker powered the visitors into an early lead and midfielder Mohamed Diame extended it five minutes into the second half on a night when there were no boos for Hammers boss Sam Allardyce.

Substitute Adam Johnson gave Sunderland, who had earlier seen strong penalty appeals go unanswered, hope when he pulled one back with 25 minutes remaining, and keeper Adrian had to pull off a double save to deny Ki Sung-yueng and Connor Wickham.

But ultimately, the Black Cats' depressing home run was extended to just one win in nine league games to leave the bulk of a crowd of 37,396 fearing the worst, with their team still second from bottom and four points from safety.

Former Newcastle frontman Carroll needed just nine minutes to plummet even further in the estimation of the home fans when he headed the visitors into the lead in trademark style.

Mark Noble's corner was tailor-made for him to climb high above John O'Shea and Wes Brown to score just his second goal of the season despite keeper Vito Mannone's best efforts on the line.

However, Sunderland, who have not won a Monday night game in 12 years, were aggrieved not to be handed a chance to level as half-time approached.

Skipper O'Shea bundled the ball into the penalty area as the home side staged an attack and opposite number Kevin Nolan appeared to block it with his arm, although referee Howard Webb was unmoved.

But their mood darkened further five minutes into the second half when Diame latched on to Carroll's knock-down and steered a deflected shot past the stranded Mannone to make it 2-0.

Sunderland's uphill task increased markedly in gradient by the time 50 minutes had passed when, after Brown had been penalised for a foul on Carroll, the striker laid off James Tomkins' free-kick for Diame to fire home with the help of a deflection off Vergini.

Poyet replaced Cattermole with Johnson and Craig Gardner soon followed as O'Shea departed, and amidst the re-organisation, Downing should really have killed the game off when he got in behind Alonso, but fired inches wide of the far post.

Johnson gave the home side hope when he collected Gardner's pass and curled home a 65th-minute shot, and suddenly, the Black Cats were transformed.

Adrian could not hold Ki's 68th-minute drive, but recovered to block Wickham's follow-up as the home fans sensed a change in the tide, but salvation proved to be beyond them as substitute Ignacio Scocco headed over at the death from Vergini's cross.