Sunderland remain four points from safety after their second-half rally fell short of overhauling West Ham.

Andy Carroll put the visitors ahead with an early header and provided the lay-off for Mohamed Diame to double the lead after the break.

But substitute Adam Johnson's arrival revived Sunderland and the winger curled home to give the hosts hope.

Sam Allardyce on 'fabulous' win

Fabio Borini slashed wide and Ignacio Scocco headed over, but Sunderland failed to force a second.

While Sunderland have played fewer games than all of the other teams in the relegation battle, their next four matches are against sides in the top six and time appears to be running out for them.

The decision to sack head coach Paolo Di Canio five games into the season was supposed to prevent such a desperate situation. But the gap between the Black Cats and a position of safety has increased from three points to four since Di Canio's exit in September.

Successor Gus Poyet will face questions over his failure to include the influential Johnson in his starting line-up, but Sam Allardyce's more direct style, criticised by some of West Ham's fans after the win over Hull, was partially vindicated by their two goals.

Wide boy

Adam Johnson

Adam Johnson has been involved in nine of Sunderland's 12 goals in the Premier League in 2014, scoring six and providing assists for three.

Only Liverpool trio Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge and Steven Gerrard, and Manchester City's Yaya Toure, have scored more league goals than Johnson since the turn of the year.

Despite Sunderland playing with three central defenders, Carroll was a constant threat and the former Liverpool striker jumped above John O'Shea and Wes Brown to power home a far-post header after nine minutes.

Sunderland's start to the game had been full of the urgency required in a relegation battle.

Phil Bardsley, making inroads down the right, had threatened before the opener and Lee Cattermole squandered a fine chance to level with a tame shot into the shins of keeper Adrian.

But they could not sustain that momentum and, with attacks regularly floundering around Connor Wickham and an appeal for a handball by Kevin Nolan in the box turned down, sections of the Sunderland fans grew uneasy, jeering as referee Howard Webb blew up for half-time.

Their side emerged re-energised, but once again their efforts were undermined by West Ham's penalty-box bombardment.

Sunderland's run-in

  • 7 April: Tottenham (a)
  • 12 April: Everton (h)
  • 16 April: Man City (a)
  • 20 April: Chelsea (a)
  • 27 April: Cardiff (h)
  • 3 May: Man Utd (a)
  • 7 May: West Brom (h)
  • 11 May: Swansea (h)

Carroll's physical presence proved decisive, as he outmuscled Brown to provide the knockdown from which Diame's shot skidded in off the sole of a defender's boot.

Stewart Downing would surely have buried Sunderland's hopes had he converted after scampering in behind Marcos Alonso, but Poyet's introduction of Johnson spurred his side on.

The former Manchester City man's direct runs pulled West Ham out of position and from fellow substitute Craig Gardner's neat through-ball, he swept in a precise finish to trigger a siege on the visiting goal.

Wickham blasted a rebound straight at Adrian, Borini's rising shot ruffled the outside of the netting and Scocco steered a cross over from 10 yards as the equaliser remained elusive.

Sunderland goalkeeper Vito Mannone was even recruited to the attack for a couple of corners during five minutes of injury-time, but West Ham held out to increase the gloom on a misty Wearside.

Gus Poyet disappointed by decision

Sunderland manager Gus Poyet:

"We are not going to give up, we have shown tonight that we will not give up.

"If I see a team out there not trying and not putting effort in I will leave straight away, I did not see that and we will continue fighting."

Asked if he made a selection error by leaving influential substitute Adam Johnson out of the starting XI, he added: "I need to analyse if I have picked the right team, but we played very well tonight. Everybody would agree we were the better team but we lost and that is the most important thing.

"I'm trying to use Adam Johnson in the best way we can and the more space there is the more influential he will be.

"It would be very easy for me to say he will start next Monday against Tottenham but I don't know."

West Ham manager Sam Allardyce: "When they scored it lifted Sunderland and it lifted the atmosphere, so we changed our tactics, we put an extra man in the defence with Roger Johnson and it worked.

"The West Ham fans will have forgotten about the Hull game last week and will go back down the motorway happy tonight.

"This sets us up perfectly for Sunday and what I hope will be a cracker at Upton Park where we face the in-form team in the league in Liverpool.

"If Andy Carroll stays fit from now to the end of the season hopefully he can go to the World Cup.

"He's not match fit at the moment and he isn't as sharp as he could be, so hopefully we'll see more from him in the next few weeks."

Lineup, Bookings (6) & Substitutions (6)

Sunderland

  • 25 Mannone
  • 02 Bardsley
  • 28 Alonso Booked
  • 05 Brown
  • 16 O'Shea (Gardner - 60' )
  • 27 Vergini
  • 26 Bridcutt
  • 33 Cattermole (Johnson - 53' )
  • 04 Ki Sung-yueng (Scocco - 79' )
  • 31 Borini
  • 10 Wickham Booked

Substitutes

  • 08 Gardner
  • 11 Johnson
  • 14 Colback
  • 17 Altidore
  • 24 Cuéllar
  • 30 Scocco
  • 32 Ustari

West Ham United

  • 13 Adrián Booked
  • 20 Demel
  • 03 McCartney (Armero - 45' )
  • 14 Taylor
  • 05 Tomkins
  • 02 Reid Booked
  • 23 Downing
  • 16 Noble Booked
  • 09 Carroll
  • 04 Nolan Booked (Nocerino - 84' )
  • 21 Diamé (Johnson - 79' )

Substitutes

  • 07 Jarvis
  • 08 Armero
  • 22 Jääskeläinen
  • 24 Cole
  • 26 Cole
  • 28 Johnson
  • 47 Nocerino
Ref: Howard Webb
Att: 37,396

Match Stats

Shots

26 11

On target

7 6

Corners

8 3

Fouls

11 14

Live Text Commentary

Full time

Full Time Match ends, Sunderland 1, West Ham United 2.

90:00 +4:57 Full time

Full Time Second Half ends, Sunderland 1, West Ham United 2.

90:00 +4:54

Attempt missed. Adam Johnson (Sunderland) right footed shot from the left side of the box is close, but misses to the left.

90:00 +4:52

Attempt blocked. Marcos Alonso (Sunderland) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

90:00 +1:25 Booking

Booking Adrián (West Ham United) is shown the yellow card.

90:00 +1:06

Attempt missed. Ignacio Scocco (Sunderland) header from the centre of the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Marcos Alonso with a cross.

89:50

Corner, Sunderland. Conceded by Antonio Nocerino.

89:47

Attempt blocked. Fabio Borini (Sunderland) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Marcos Alonso.

87:59

Corner, Sunderland. Conceded by James Tomkins.

87:30

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

87:13

Delay in match Winston Reid (West Ham United) because of an injury.

87:10 Booking

Booking Winston Reid (West Ham United) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

86:23

Craig Gardner (Sunderland) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

86:23

Foul by Winston Reid (West Ham United).

85:09

Attempt missed. Marcos Alonso (Sunderland) left footed shot from outside the box is too high. Assisted by Adam Johnson following a corner.

84:47

Corner, Sunderland. Conceded by Matthew Taylor.

84:09

Wes Brown (Sunderland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

84:09

Foul by Andy Carroll (West Ham United).

83:44

Attempt saved. Fabio Borini (Sunderland) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Adam Johnson.

83:11 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, West Ham United. Antonio Nocerino replaces Kevin Nolan because of an injury.

82:23

Attempt missed. Andy Carroll (West Ham United) left footed shot from the left side of the box is high and wide to the left.

81:45

Attempt missed. Craig Gardner (Sunderland) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left. Assisted by Liam Bridcutt.

80:44

Attempt missed. Fabio Borini (Sunderland) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Adam Johnson.

79:47

Foul by Ignacio Scocco (Sunderland).

79:47

Mark Noble (West Ham United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

79:01

Foul by Liam Bridcutt (Sunderland).

79:01

Andy Carroll (West Ham United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

78:35 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Sunderland. Ignacio Scocco replaces Ki Sung-Yueng.

78:18 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, West Ham United. Roger Johnson replaces Mohamed Diamé.

77:45

Liam Bridcutt (Sunderland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

77:45

Foul by Andy Carroll (West Ham United).

74:41 Booking

Booking Connor Wickham (Sunderland) is shown the yellow card for hand ball.

74:35

Hand ball by Connor Wickham (Sunderland).

73:51

Offside, Sunderland. Santiago Vergini tries a through ball, but Adam Johnson is caught offside.

73:32

Craig Gardner (Sunderland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

73:32

Foul by Andy Carroll (West Ham United).

72:53

Corner, West Ham United. Conceded by Phil Bardsley.

72:51

Attempt blocked. Andy Carroll (West Ham United) left footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Stewart Downing with a cross.

71:58 Booking

Booking Marcos Alonso (Sunderland) is shown the yellow card.

71:55

Foul by Marcos Alonso (Sunderland).

71:55

Stewart Downing (West Ham United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

71:02

Attempt saved. Marcos Alonso (Sunderland) with an attempt from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Adam Johnson.

69:42

Attempt missed. Fabio Borini (Sunderland) left footed shot from the left side of the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Connor Wickham with a through ball.

69:06

Attempt saved. Mohamed Diamé (West Ham United) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top right corner. Assisted by Matthew Taylor.

68:06

Santiago Vergini (Sunderland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

68:06

Foul by Mohamed Diamé (West Ham United).

67:53

Attempt saved. Connor Wickham (Sunderland) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

67:49

Attempt saved. Ki Sung-Yueng (Sunderland) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Liam Bridcutt.

66:03 Booking

Booking Kevin Nolan (West Ham United) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

65:43

Craig Gardner (Sunderland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

65:43

Foul by Kevin Nolan (West Ham United).

64:41 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Sunderland 1, West Ham United 2. Adam Johnson (Sunderland) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the top left corner. Assisted by Craig Gardner with a through ball.

63:34

Ki Sung-Yueng (Sunderland) wins a free kick on the left wing.

63:34

Foul by Mark Noble (West Ham United).

62:43

Attempt missed. Fabio Borini (Sunderland) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left. Assisted by Liam Bridcutt.

59:59

Attempt missed. Stewart Downing (West Ham United) left footed shot from the right side of the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Mark Noble.

59:14 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Sunderland. Craig Gardner replaces John O'Shea.

58:33

Foul by Marcos Alonso (Sunderland).

58:33

Andy Carroll (West Ham United) wins a free kick on the right wing.

55:12

Attempt saved. Stewart Downing (West Ham United) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Mark Noble.

54:24

Attempt saved. Marcos Alonso (Sunderland) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top right corner.

54:02

Corner, Sunderland. Conceded by Matthew Taylor.

52:37 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Sunderland. Adam Johnson replaces Lee Cattermole.

52:13

Attempt missed. Marcos Alonso (Sunderland) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the right.

49:32 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Sunderland 0, West Ham United 2. Mohamed Diamé (West Ham United) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Andy Carroll following a set piece situation.

48:57

Foul by Wes Brown (Sunderland).

48:57

Andy Carroll (West Ham United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

48:49

Attempt blocked. Phil Bardsley (Sunderland) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Fabio Borini.

47:38

Connor Wickham (Sunderland) wins a free kick on the right wing.

47:38

Foul by Pablo Armero (West Ham United).

45:31

Attempt missed. Connor Wickham (Sunderland) right footed shot from the right side of the box misses to the left.

45:29

Attempt blocked. Connor Wickham (Sunderland) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Lee Cattermole.

45:00

Second Half begins Sunderland 0, West Ham United 1.

45:00 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, West Ham United. Pablo Armero replaces George McCartney because of an injury.

45:00 +1:03 Half time

Half Time First Half ends, Sunderland 0, West Ham United 1.

43:52

Foul by Liam Bridcutt (Sunderland).

43:52

Mohamed Diamé (West Ham United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

41:20

Foul by Fabio Borini (Sunderland).

41:20

Mark Noble (West Ham United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

40:27

Corner, Sunderland. Conceded by Mark Noble.

38:00

Attempt missed. Marcos Alonso (Sunderland) right footed shot from the left side of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Liam Bridcutt following a corner.

37:04

Corner, Sunderland. Conceded by Stewart Downing.

37:02

Attempt blocked. Marcos Alonso (Sunderland) left footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Fabio Borini.

36:14

Attempt saved. Andy Carroll (West Ham United) header from the centre of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by George McCartney with a cross.

34:14

Attempt missed. Liam Bridcutt (Sunderland) right footed shot from outside the box is too high. Assisted by Ki Sung-Yueng.

30:28

Offside, West Ham United. Mohamed Diamé tries a through ball, but Kevin Nolan is caught offside.

29:53

Foul by Connor Wickham (Sunderland).

29:53

Mark Noble (West Ham United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

28:43

Connor Wickham (Sunderland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

28:43

Foul by Winston Reid (West Ham United).

27:02

Attempt missed. Santiago Vergini (Sunderland) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left. Assisted by Ki Sung-Yueng.

25:48

Corner, Sunderland. Conceded by George McCartney.

25:16

Corner, Sunderland. Conceded by Guy Demel.

23:49

Wes Brown (Sunderland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

23:49

Foul by Andy Carroll (West Ham United).

21:22

Attempt saved. Mohamed Diamé (West Ham United) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by George McCartney.

20:30

Attempt missed. Phil Bardsley (Sunderland) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left. Assisted by Liam Bridcutt.

19:42

Fabio Borini (Sunderland) wins a free kick on the right wing.

19:42

Foul by Mohamed Diamé (West Ham United).

18:40

Attempt missed. Matthew Taylor (West Ham United) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the left. Assisted by Mark Noble.

13:17

Foul by Lee Cattermole (Sunderland).

13:17

Stewart Downing (West Ham United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

12:39

Fabio Borini (Sunderland) wins a free kick on the right wing.

12:39

Foul by Winston Reid (West Ham United).

12:25

Hand ball by Guy Demel (West Ham United).

11:33

Attempt missed. Lee Cattermole (Sunderland) right footed shot from a difficult angle on the right is high and wide to the left.

11:32

Attempt saved. Lee Cattermole (Sunderland) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Fabio Borini.

8:53 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Sunderland 0, West Ham United 1. Andy Carroll (West Ham United) header from very close range to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Mark Noble with a cross following a corner.

8:26

Corner, West Ham United. Conceded by Wes Brown.

7:52

Corner, West Ham United. Conceded by Wes Brown.

3:35

Foul by Ki Sung-Yueng (Sunderland).

3:35

Kevin Nolan (West Ham United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

2:39 Booking

Booking Mark Noble (West Ham United) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

2:32

Ki Sung-Yueng (Sunderland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

2:32

Foul by Mark Noble (West Ham United).

2:17

Attempt missed. Kevin Nolan (West Ham United) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the left. Assisted by Andy Carroll with a headed pass.

0:00

First Half begins.

0:00

Lineups are announced and players are warming up.

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