West Ham gets 1-0 win over Sunderland
LONDON (AP) — West Ham's chances of hosting European football next season at the Olympic Stadium received a boost on Saturday, after it beat relegation-threatened Sunderland 1-0 at Upton Park to climb to provisional fifth place in the Premier League.
Winger Michail Antonio scored the game's only goal in the 30th minute, cutting in from the right touchline and muscling past three Sunderland defenders to curl the ball past keeper Vito Mannone.
Currently in the Europa League positions, West Ham is now unbeaten in its last 13 home games in all competitions ahead of its move to the Olympic Stadium next season.
Saturday's performance lacked the home side's recent sparkle, but was enough to win a scrappy game.
"We were not flat, but we were not in the red zone," West Ham manager Slaven Bilic said.
"That makes this win even bigger for us. I will never be objective, as I am West Ham manager. But realistically we deserved three points today."
Sunderland remains anchored in the drop zone in 19th place, with manager Sam Allardyce enduring a miserable first return to Upton Park since leaving West Ham last year.
His team created chances, particularly after the break, but paid the price for failing to take them.
"For us it's such a huge disappointment not picking up any points today on those chances created particularly in the second half," Allardyce said.
"We made life extremely difficult for ourselves not converting our chances today. I thought we had done enough to win it, let alone draw. We must hope that if we continue to play like that we will ultimately get the victories that we need very quickly."
Played in a strong swirling wind, chances were far and few between in a first half that lacked zip and quality. Passes were over-hit and under-hit as players on both sides struggled to pick out their teammates.
Tunisian attacking midfielder Wahbi Khazri hit struck the top of the goal with a dipping free kick in the 22nd minute for Sunderland, while West Ham captain Mark Noble forced a fingertip save from Mannone that hit the underside of the bar.
Chasing an equalizer, Sunderland came out fighting in the second half, but ultimately squandered all the opportunities.
Khazri guided another free kick into straight into West Ham keeper Adrian's hands, and the Spaniard needed to be alert to make a smart save with his right foot from substitute midfielder Jack Rodwell in the 74th.
Adrian also saved from Dame N'Doye, while former West Ham striker Jermain Defoe also missed the target for Sunderland on several occasions.
For the home side, substitute striker Andy Carroll had its best chance after the break -when he volleyed against the bar - and midfielder Dmitri Payet sent a shot wide.