This was a result which left Sunderland doubled over and adrift in the relegation places of the Barclays Premier League.

In football parlance it was a hammer blow, the 2-1 scoreline also all but making sure that West Ham United will be among the top flight of English football next season. The club are now 11th in the league table and more importantly 11 points above the drop zone.

Sunderland are instead left staring into the abyss. Or the Sky Bet Championship as the sponsors insist on calling it. The defeat has left the club four points from safety and nursing the bruises of a night in which they were denied a strong penalty appeal and were never overrun by their opponents.

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The biggest mark, though, was left by Andy Carroll. The West Ham United striker is a Newcastle boy and no friend of Wearside, proving as much after nine minutes when he stuck the head on the home side - directing a firm header into the net after first out-jumping both John O'Shea and Wes Brown.

Carroll was also involved shortly after the break when West Ham doubled their lead. He rose highest in the penalty area after 50 minutes to provide the knock down for midfielder Mohamed Diame to scud a shot past Vito Mannone and into the net.

The Sunderland defence had been holed twice and it has left the club lying low in the league table. If they are to sink back into the Championship then many will point to a dismal home record over the past season. Last night their run endured to a ninth consecutive match at the Stadium of Light during which they have won just once.

Some supporters will have been left muttering darkly about that form but the most vocal criticism had been at the decision by referee Howard Webb not to award a penalty after West Ham's Mark Noble appeared to handle the ball in the box. It would not help that he had also diverted the ball away from O'Shea in the process as the Sunderland defender was preparing an effort at goal.

There was at least some hope for the home side when Adam Johnson was brought off the bench, his darting runs causing problems for the visitors. Indeed it was Johnson who pulled a goal back for Sunderland when he strode on to a pass from Craig Gardner and whipped the ball high past West Ham goalkeeper Adrian. It was the midfielder's 10th goal of the campaign.

It was a moment which triggered a siege on the West Ham goal. Yet Sunderland failed to fire - Conor Wickham and Fabio Borini both having chances to level the score, only to be thwarted by Adrian or imperfect shooting.

There were chances for West Ham to kill the game off too, with Carroll going close with another cross into the penalty area. The intervention of Adrian late in the second half would ultimately leave Sunderland winded and gasping for air among the relegation places, though, after he got both hands to a late shot from Ki Sung-Yueng.