West Ham 0-3 Sunderland

By Kevin DarlingBBC Sport
Bolo Zenden
Bolo Zenden opened the scoring in possibly his last game for Sunderland

West Ham left the Premier League with a whimper as Sunderland eased to victory and sealed a top-10 finish.

Bolo Zenden headed home Ahmed Elmohamady's cross to give the visitors an early advantage.

Zavon Hines almost levelled from close range before Stephane Sessegnon doubled the lead when he lashed home from 25 yards after a solo run.

The Hammers struggled to muster a response and Cristian Riveros converted Jordan Henderson's cross late on.

Hammers fans hoping to see some pride restored after a dismal season against an out-of-form Sunderland side were instead subjected to a performance as abject as anything served up under Avram Grant, who was sacked as manager after the club's relegation last weekend.

Caretaker boss Kevin Keen has declared his wish to replace Grant full-time but this audition inspired no confidence - his youthful side's display highlighting the desperate need for a strong figure to revive and inspire the club in the Championship next season.

Sunderland, buoyed by the return of Asamoah Gyan from injury, put on a clinical show that propelled them four places up the table - and crucially above north-east rivals Newcastle.

There was a low-key but defiant atmosphere inside the Boleyn Ground, possibly hosting its last Premier League match given West Ham's pending move to the Olympic Stadium, and the Hammers' loyal followers were treated to a lively start.

A Freddie Sears drive and Thomas Hitzlsperger's 30-yard free-kick forced good stops from Simon Mignolet as the Hammers, featuring five Academy graduates, attacked with purpose.

However, the defensive vulnerability that has dogged the east Londoners all season was evident from the start and Gyan was twice presented with early chances, which he fired straight at Robert Green.

Sunderland's opening goal was not long in coming though and it was an unmarked Zenden who supplied the finish, arcing a header over Green from Elmohamady's right-wing cross.

The hosts' fragile confidence drained away and the Black Cats protected their lead in comfort for the rest of the half, bar a close-range snapshot from Hines in first-half injury time that Mignolet acrobatically blocked.

But any hopes of a second-half revival were quickly stamped out when more lethargic defending allowed the visitors to double their lead six minutes after the break.

Sessegnon picked up the ball on the halfway line and strode completely unopposed to the edge of the penalty area, where he unleashed a fine low drive past Green.

The Black Cats soon threatened more goals, but Gyan fired just wide and Jack Colback's strike was tipped around the post by the busy Green.

The home fans contented themselves with self-deprecating gallows humour - a conga was seen in the 'Chicken Run' at one point - and some warm applause for substitute Scott Parker.

The closest they came to cheering a goal was when Victor Obinna headed straight at Mignolet but it was a rare foray upfield from the Hammers, who were more preoccupied with keeping the scoreline respectable.

The defence held out until injury-time when Paraguayan midfielder Riveros was given time in the area to fire home a scrappy third that was typical of the 70 goals the Hammers have conceded in the league this season.