For match photos, scroll to Photostream above. Scroll down to read manager reactions.
Sebastian Larsson's stunning goal set up a comfortable 3-0 victory for Sunderland at home to West Ham United as they dragged themselves further clear of the Barclays Premier League relegation zone.
The Sweden international set the Black Cats on their way with a 12th-minute piledriver and the game was effectively over when Adam Johnson scored from close range two minutes after half-time.
James McClean wrapped up the win 16 minutes from time after Stephane Sessegnon had left the Hammes defence trailing in his wake.
Martin O'Neill's men were good value for the points in front of a crowd of 39,918. They might have won more comfortably had it not been for the efforts of goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen, who pulled off a string of fine saves and was also helped out on one occasion by the woodwork.
O'Neill was once again forced to field a side without any specialist full-backs. Midfielders Craig Gardner and Jack Colback filled in with Phil Bardsley sitting on the bench. However, he need not have worried as the Hammers turned in a below-par first 45 minutes during which goalkeeper Simon Mignolet was called upon only once to grasp Matt Jarvis' skidding 20th-minute shot at the end of a rare incisive attack. The visitors enjoyed their fair share of possession but were were able to do little with it.
By contrast, Sunderland threatened repeatedly as Sessegnon and Steven Fletcher led the Hammers' defence a merry dance. It took a good block by full-back Dan Potts to keep out Johnson's third-minute volley with David Vaughan steering the rebound wide. Winston Reid charged down a Fletcher effort six minutes later but the respite was only temporary.
Johnson's right-wing cross was easily picked off by Alou Diarra but he could only head it to Larsson 25 yards out and he smashed an unstoppable left-foot shot high past Jaaskelainen to open the scoring.
Sam Allardyce's men started to work their way into the game but Kevin Nolan had a quiet afternoon and striker Carlton Cole saw little of the ball.
Sunderland might have increased their lead with 26 minutes gone when Sessegnon carved his way through the Hammers' defence but he stabbed his effort wide. Johnson then saw a shot blocked on the stroke of half-time.
Allardyce attempted to inject fresh impetus by introducing Ricardo Vaz Te in place of Jack Collison but his plan was torn apart within two minutes of the restart. Sessegnon broke from his own half down the right before picking out the unmarked McClean on the opposite flank. Jaaskelainen pulled off a fine one-handed save to deny the Republic of Ireland winger but, as Potts attempted to chest the ball back to his keeper, Fletcher intervened to poke it towards Johnson, who dispatched it via the post into the unguarded net.
The visitors were showing few signs of forcing their way back into the game and it seemed only a matter of time before Sunderland increased their lead. They very nearly did just that with 57 minutes gone when Sessegnon picked out Colback in acres of space and his initial shot was well saved by Jaaskelainen before his follow-up cannoned back off the upright.
Fletcher beat Jaaskelainen with a cultured finish six minutes later, but the goal was ruled out for offside.
Sunderland completed the scoring on 74 minutes when Sessegnon skipped into the box and scuffed a shot to the far post, where McClean slammed the ball home from a tight angle.
Mignolet had to kick away James Tomkins's 83rd-minute effort before Sunderland's new signing Alfred N'Diaye, on as a replacement for Johnson, fired wide two minutes later.
Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill: "There's always pressure. The win was important for us. I think anybody in the bottom half of the table still has to be looking anxiously over their shoulder. But it was an important win for us - I think it's our fourth in seven games in the Premier League and in the context of things, it was good to win.
"I'm hoping that [Senegal defender Kader Mangane] is making his way over at this minute. I'm not sure that anything has been absolutely and utterly completed, but it would be a loan until the end of the season. Of course, we have a number of positions we would like to try to fill between now and the end of January, and I'm hoping something might materialise. But there's a long bit of distance to go yet."
West Ham United manager Sam Allardyce: "There are too many of my defenders injured. We have had too many injuries recently, but the injury situation with defenders with George McCartney not being here, Joey O'Brien not being here and James Collins getting injured today means that the defensive side of our team is particularly weak and short of numbers now. I am really going to have to go and try to strengthen that area in the next few days.
"[Sunderland's second goal] was pathetic, wasn't it? We have a free-kick and we let the opposition score. Jussi [Jaaskelainen] gets us out of jail in the first place by making a really, really good save, and then we mess up the clearance and they score, so it probably sums us up today. We didn't defend correctly, we didn't have the appetite for defending correctly and nullifying the opposition's strengths, we never passed the ball as well as we know we can.
"It was really an all-round performance that makes life extremely difficult for me to accept, the performance I have seen based on how well we played just seven days ago against Manchester United. The level of difference in performance between that game and this is just staggering. All round last week, we were absolutely brilliant in all departments. This week, we were poor in all departments, hence we were beaten comprehensively by a team who deserved to beat us."
|19 Jan 2013||v Wigan (A)|
|29 Jan 2013||v Swansea (H)|
|02 Feb 2013||v Reading (A)|
|09 Feb 2013||v Arsenal (H)|
|23 Feb 2013||v West Brom (A)|
|02 Mar 2013||v Fulham (H)|