By Tom Dowsett
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West Ham United started 2013 with a home win against Norwich City on New Year's Day, but they couldn't build on that result as they lost 3-0 to Sunderland at the Stadium of Light on Saturday afternoon.
Sam Allardyce made two changes to the team that drew against Manchester United in the FA Cup Third-Round last weekend, which earnt them a replay at Old Trafford. Winston Reid and Matt Jarvis replaced James Tomkins and Ricardo Vaz Te who both dropped to the bench. Joe Cole was also making his second Premier League debut since re-signing for the club a week on Friday. Alou Diarra made his first League start since signing for the club in the summer, while Dan Potts also made his first Premier League start. New Signing, Marouane Chamakh, was included but also had to settle for a place amongst the substitutes.
Although West Ham had a couple of half chances straight from the kick-off, it was the home side who came out of the blocks quickest and really put the pressure on. After three consecutive corners, Martin O'Neill's side took the lead on 12 minutes, when Sebastien Larsson got the better of captain Kevin Nolan and unleashed a left foot shot past Jussi Jaaskelainen.
The visitors finally forced a save from Simon Mignolet on 20 min as Jarvis went close and then six minutes later, Joe Cole tried his luck only for John O'Shea to dive in and retrieve the ball ahead of Carlton Cole and save the home side.
Then on 34 minutes, the Hammers suffered another injury blow as James Collins went off with a hamstring problem. He was swiftly replaced by Tomkins.
The Black Cats ended the half in much the same way as it had begun as they piled more and more pressure onto the East Londoners. Their best chance came just before the break, when James McLean's shot was well held to his left by Jaaskelainen.
At the break, Allardyce replaced Jack Collison with Vaz Te but that change didn't seem to make a great deal of difference, as just two minutes in, Sunderland had scored again when Steven Fletcher pounced on a defensive mistake by Dan Potts to set up Adam Johnson who finished from close range.
With the Weirsiders continuing to boss matters, Big Sam made his third and final change replacing Carlton Cole with Chamakh.
After Fletcher's goal was ruled out for offside on 63 minutes, West Ham started to apply some pressure on the hosts by earning a number of corner kicks, neither of which came to anything and the danger was easily cleared.
Sunderland made sure of the points on 74 minutes when Stephane Sessegnon floored Potts and sent the ball across the goal for McLean, who made no mistake as he slotted the ball home.
The Hammers had another brief spell of pressure but after Alfred N'Diaye was introduced on 84 minutes, he could have produced his first goal with his first touch but his effort went narrowly wide with Jaaskelainen well beaten.
As the game entered three minutes of stoppage time, Nolan had a great chance to grab a consolation but unfortunately he side-footed his effort wide of the post.
So West Ham had missed out on a chance to collect another 3 points away from home. They now turn their focus to the FA Cup replay at Old Trafford on Wednesday.
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