Gyan on target again but hosts go out....West Ham United produced a strong and resilient performance as they progressed to the fourth round of the League Cup at the expense of Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.
Sunderland manager Steve Bruce named a strong side, showing how important he views this competition, giving club recording signing Asamoah Gyan his first start in a red and white shirt, while West Ham manager Avram Grant rested Robert Green with Marek Stech replacing the England goalkeeper.
And it was the away side who started on the front foot, looking to improve on their impressive draw at Stoke City on Saturday, but Victor Obinna on two occasions failed to test Simon Mignolet in the Sunderland goal.
However, the hosts soon found their groove and Gyan went close but couldn’t connect with Darren Bent’s cross. Then a few minutes later Danny Welbeck found space on the right but his shot was straight at Hammers keeper Stech.
As the half progressed, the home side continued to press, with the half-full Stadium of Light trying to get behind their team, for whom Kieran Richardson and Nedum Onuoha both went close.
However West Ham still threatened and Sunderland had Mignolet to thank as he first saved well from the lively Obinna then saved Frederic Piquionne’s follow up.
But Mignolet was to pick the ball out of the net just a few later as West Ham pulled ahead. A superb ball by Obinna found Piquionne and he made no mistake from six yards to slot the ball into the net.
The Black Cats were shell-shocked and it could have been worse for them 30 seconds later only for Mignolet to produce another fine save from Scott Parker.
With the game sparking into life towards the end of the half, Sunderland managed to respond and were soon back on level terms. Young talent Jordan Henderson crossed on the right and there was Gyan to head the ball past Stech from six yards, scoring his first goal at the Stadium of Light, to make sure both teams went into the break with all to play for in the second half.
The Hammers started the second half as they had the first and could have been in front within a minute, but Pablo Barrera’s left-foot shot was blocked by Cristian Riveros. Sunderland were also looking to build on their impressive performance against Arsenal on Saturday and they responded immediately, with Gyan firing his shot just over.
However on the hour mark, West Ham were back in front, and looking a different side to the one that had started the season in such poor form. An exchange of neat passes led to Pablo Barrera playing the ball through to Obinna, who found the bottom left corner of the net, scoring his first goal for the Hammers since his loan move from Inter.
Sunderland tried to respond with chances of their own but could not find a way through the surprisingly resilient Hammers defence, although defender Phil Bardsley and substitute Steed Malbranque both went close.
However, West Ham held on to beat a Premier League team at this stage of the competition for the first time since 1997.