West Ham United moved closer to Premier League safety and kept Sunderland in the relegation zone with a 2-1 win away on Monday. Andy Carroll, formerly a striker with Sunderland's arch north-east rivals Newcastle, headed West Ham into an early lead and Mohamed Diame made it 2-0 to the London club shortly after half-time. Sunderland substitute Adam Johnson pulled a goal back for the hosts in the 65th minute to the joy of the Stadium of Light crowd but they were unable to build on that.
Victory took 11th placed West Ham onto 37 points, three short of the traditional survival mark of 40, but the result meant Sunderland stayed second bottom on 25 points, four shy of safety with eight games remaining.
The game was only nine minutes old when Carroll, a Â£15 million ($25m, 18m euros) signing from Liverpool, scored only his second goal of the season as he rose highest to head in Mark Noble's corner.
Gus Poyet's Sunderland, had chances of their own and were convinced they should have had a penalty when Hammers midfielder Kevin Nolan appeared to handle inside his own area. But referee Howard Webb rejected Sunderland defender John O'Shea's furious plea for a spot-kick and let play continue.
West Ham, whose manager Sam Allardyce was booed by Hammers fans in their last game despite overseeing a 2-1 win against Hull at Upton Park, dominated the remainder of the half without adding another goal. However, that changed five minutes after the interval when after Carroll had muscled O'Shea out of the way, Diame's deflected shot from 12 yards out left Sunderland goalkeeper Vito Mannone flat-footed before trickling into the net.
Mannone though kept Sunderland in the match by preventing the Hammers going 3-0 up when he turned away Stewart Downing's shot after a ball over the top left him clean through on goal. The worth of that save became clear when Johnson, who'd already looked sharp during his few minutes on the field, gave Sunderland renewed hope.
Connor Wickham flicked the ball to Craig Gardner and his resulting through ball was struck into the top corner from just inside the penalty area by Johnson. The goal inspired both Sunderland and their fans, the Black Cats surging forward in search of an equaliser.
Sunderland nearly made it 2-2 when Hammers keeper Adrian couldn't hold South Korean midfielder Ki Sung-yeung low strike from 20 yards. The Spaniard redeemed himself though by blocking Wickham's follow-up effort.
Sunderland pushed everyone forward, including Mannone, in five minutes of added-on time at the end of the match but as mist closed in over the ground, they couldn't find that elusive second goal.