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Last Updated: Saturday, 13 December, 2003, 17:18 GMT
West Ham 3-2 Sunderland
Jermain Defoe helped spare West Ham manager Alan Pardew's blushes as his two goals helped the Hammers come back from 2-0 down to beat Sunderland at Upton Park.

Defoe believes his chances of an England call-up are being harmed while he plays in the First Division, and he could not have provided a better advertisement of his talents to potential suitors on his return from a five-match ban.

West Ham were a shambolic rabble in the first half, allowing Jason McAteer and John Oster to give Sunderland a comfortable half-time cushion.

But two moments of magic from the sought-after England Under-21 striker and a late winner from Ian Pearce completed a stunning turnaround.

Things started badly when Tommy Smith broke clear down the left in the fourth minute, tempting David James out of the West Ham goal.

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England's number one was so indecisive that he allowed Smith to sidestep a weak challenge and flash in a cross which evaded everyone but McAteer, who smashed home into an empty net.

Oster, also returning after hamstring trouble, doubled Sunderland's lead on the half-hour mark.

Smith again was the creator, his shot squirming out of James's hands in the rain and falling kindly for Oster to finish.

West Ham's frustration boiled over, and predictably it was Tomas Repka who provided the fireworks.

Moving in to defuse a flare-up between Oster and Marlon Harewood, his temper got the better of him and he threw a punch at the Sunderland man, with a booking marking a lucky escape.

His side survived another scare after the restart when Jeff Whitley was given all the time in the world to crack a 25-yard shot off the crossbar.

But Defoe, who had earlier hit a post, then transformed the match, scoring first from close-range after Poom had spilled substitute Brian Deane's header.

Defoe then fired home on the turn from Matthew Etherington's centre for his 13th goal of the season.

And when Pearce capitalised on a Kevin Horlock free-kick which rebounded off the far post to stab home the winner with 10 minutes remaining, the home fans in the 30,329 crowd erupted.


West Ham: James, Repka, Dailly, Pearce, Quinn, Harewood, Mullins, Horlock, Etherington, Connolly, Defoe. Subs: Bywater, Hutchison, Stockdale, Deane, Cohen.

Sunderland: Poom, Wright, McCartney, Bjorklund, Arca, Oster, Thirlwell, McAteer, Whitley, Stewart, Tommy Smith. Subs: Ingham, Kyle, Babb, Quinn, Butler.

Referee: P Joslin (Nottinghamshire).




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BBC Radio Newcastle's Nick Barnes reports





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