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Page last updated at 17:57 GMT, Sunday, 23 November 2008

Sunderland 0-1 West Ham

By Andrew McKenzie

Valon Behrami
Behrami (left) scored with the aid of a deflection off Jones

Valon Behrami's first goal for West Ham was enough to give them a much-needed victory over a below-par Sunderland.

Behrami's shot took a deflection off Sunderland striker Kenwyne Jones to beat stranded keeper Marton Fulop.

Sunderland had penalty appeals turned down when Jones and Djibril Cisse went down in the area.

Behrami should have added a second but hit the bar from five yards out, while Sunderland striker Cisse was guilty of missing a number of chances.

We need to win on our bad days - Keane

The Hammers' reward for a battling defensive performance was a first victory in eight games to ease some of the pressure on manager Gianfranco Zola.

Sunderland suffered a fourth home defeat of the Premier League season - and a third in a row - on a thoroughly frustrating afternoon for their fans and manager Roy Keane.

Having settled the better of the two sides they found themselves behind after 20 minutes.

The Black Cats failed to clear a free-kick and Behrami latched on to the loose ball to drive a shot from inside the box that deflected off Jones and into the net.

Sunderland should have equalised almost immediately when an Andy Reid cross found Cisse unmarked in front of goal, but he planted his header wide.

The home side's frustrations grew when referee Mike Dean turned down two penalty appeals inside five minutes.

James Collins seemed to pull down Jones as the Trinidad and Tobago striker attempted to get his head on a free-kick.


Wales defender Collins was also involved in the second incident when Cisse tumbled to the ground as he ran on to a Steed Malbranque flick.

Reid hit the top of the bar, Cisse again headed wide of the mark and Danny Collins saw a left-foot shot tipped over by Robert Green as Sunderland searched for an equaliser.

But on the stroke of half-time West Ham should have doubled their lead when Behrami missed a glorious chance.

Former West Ham defender Anton Ferdinand was dispossessed by Craig Bellamy, who ran through on goal only to be forced wide by Fulop.

The striker took a look up and saw an advancing Behrami, who smacked his shot off the bar from five yards out.

Cisse showed his increasing frustrations when his shot hit Matthew Upson's hand, but it would have been asking a lot for Dean to have given a penalty.

Zola overjoyed with much-needed win

Phil Bardsley's left-foot cross found Cisse at the back post and he was again unable to direct his effort on goal.

Sunderland's attacks became increasingly desperate and the West Ham backline comfortably coped with the hopeful crosses from deep.

When Sunderland did find a man in the box it was generally wasted, with Cisse in particular guilty of some shocking efforts in front of goal.

Bardsley shot just wide and Dean Whitehead's header was comfortably collected by Green.

The Hammers comfortably saw out the closing stages as they recorded back-to-back clean sheets for the first time in over a year.

Sunderland boss Roy Keane:
"We are disappointed with the goal we gave away. We didn't defend the set piece, particularly the second ball, and we got punished for it.

"We had chances but we didn't test their keeper enough. In the Premier League you have to take your chances.

"We felt we didn't deserve to lose the game. We are disappointed with one or two decisions in terms of fairly clear-cut penalties.

"But we have to learn to get something even on our off days."

West Ham boss Gianfranco Zola on their recent run:
"It's been very difficult.

"You walk into the dressing room after your team has played well and you have to try to cheer them up. But they have character and they proved it today.

"The defence was unbelievable, particularly Matt Upson and James Collins who were outstanding."

Sunderland: Fulop, Bardsley, Nosworthy, Ferdinand, Collins, Malbranque (Edwards 66), Whitehead, Reid (Murphy 66), Richardson, Jones (Diouf 81), Cisse.
Subs Not Used: Colgan, Tainio, Colback, Henderson.

Booked: Reid, Bardsley.

West Ham: Green, Neill, Collins, Upson, Ilunga, Faubert (Boa Morte 76), Parker, Bowyer (Mullins 61), Behrami, Bellamy (Di Michele 87), Cole.
Subs Not Used: Lastuvka, Davenport, Collison, Sears.

Booked: Bowyer.

Goals: Behrami 20.

Att: 35,222.

Ref: Mike Dean (Wirral).

BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: West Ham's Valon Behrami (6.86 on 90 minutes).

Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.

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see also
Premier League as it happened
23 Nov 08 |  Premier League
Sunday's football photos
23 Nov 08 |  Football
Player Rater
18 Jan 07 |  Live Text

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