Hammer blow for Sunderland
Sunderland were sent crashing out of the carling cup after suffering a 2-1 defeat to West Ham United at the Stadium of Light tonight.
Frederic Piquionne gave the Hammers the lead after 35 minutes but record signing Asamoah Gyan levelled it up with a header six minutes later but Nigeria international Victor Obinna sent his side through to the next round 13 minutes after the break with a strike from 12-yards.
Before the game Sunderland went into the fixture with a near unchanged side from Saturday, Titus Bramble and Steed Malbranque making way for Phil Bardsley and Asamoah Gyan.
This was a game that the Black cats where predicted to win and win with ease, but it went completely wrong, right from the off.
Whether this game came too soon for some players or the motivation wasn`t there, either way Sunderland look the shadow of the side that bulldogged their way to a draw against Arsenal.
Passes going astray, lack of service to strikers and an agitated Steve Bruce isn`t a good mix in cup games, especially at home, the crowd reminded everyone of that.
The tone of the game was set from the off when Obinna was given too much space, luckily his shot was well off target, but sent alarm bells ringing in the Sunderland half.
Again Obinna was given room and again he failed to take his chance and blasted his shot over the bar, much to the relief of the home fans.
Some light did shine on Sunderland after the early scare; a good run and cross from Darren Bent almost found Gyan but was inches away from a connection.
As the game dragged on, the performances dropped, especially on the Black Cats side, Danny Welbeck looked a little lost wide on the left while Paraguay's Christian Riveros seemed out of his depth an excellent Scott Parker.
One positive note Ahmed Elmohamady gave West Ham's Tal Ben Haim quite a work out down the right, easily Sunderland`s most consistent player so far this season.
Parker again teased and disassembled the home side, this time his excellent cutting pass found Obinna who squared it to Piquionne, who acted too casual with his chance and left Simon Mignolet with a simple save.
But the Frenchman would not miss the next time, his chance came after timing his run to perfection and capitalising on a Pablo Barrera pass, he rounded Mignolet and simply passed the ball in the back of the net.
The score could have been doubled if it wasn`t for Mignolet`s smart save from a Parker low shot.
40 minutes came and it was up and down for Sunderland, Anton Ferdinand limping off and replaced by Paulo Da Silva, but along came a lifeline.
Jordan Henderson`s whipped corner found the head of Gyan, who powered his effort beyond Marek Stech, much to the relief to the home fans.
In the second half, the tempo upped when Gyan almost put his side in front, but his shot flew high over the bar.
Parker flourished ever more throughout the game and for large periods of the second half dictated play and caused Sunderland problems on a dangerous level, in all honesty he was given the space to do it, rarely was he pressed.
Again he was in the centre of the build up to West Ham`s goal, combining with Barrera once again and when he slid a pass into the Mexican's run, he squared for Obinna to thump a low drive past the keeper and just inside the post.
Bruce attempted to counter Parker's craft by sending Steed Malbranque on in place of the tiring Gyan, but not even the inform Frenchmen could inspire his side to a comeback, once again the Carling Cup has slipped away from Steve Bruce once again, a thought he will not like.
Manager Steve Bruce called the performance flat and admitted to a lethargic performance, he told Safc.com.
"It was disappointing all round. We looked flat from the moment we started.
"Our edge wasn`t with us and we paid the price for it. In management you look and think 'could I have freshened it up a bit more?`
"I picked a team which I thought was strong enough but we were lethargic and not at it. That was disappointing.
"I thought the goal might have given us a lift but if we`re being honest the better side won tonight. We have no gripes about that.
"We struggled to get near them to get possession of the ball, something we did exceptionally well against Arsenal.
"Still we had chances to score. We had two at the death which on another day might have allowed us to get back into it.
"If we`re being honest, the better side won."