LONDON (AFP) - Michail Antonio struck as West Ham enhanced their European qualifying hopes and snuffed out Sunderland's recent mini-revival with a 1-0 victory on Saturday.
The former Nottingham Forest midfielder scored in the 30th minute, clinically punishing a loose clearance by Patrick van Aanholt to take his tally for the east London club to five goals.
Slaven Bilic's side climbed to fifth place in the Premier League, supplanting Manchester United in the Europa League berth, and closed to within four points of the Champions League places.
Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce met with defeat on his return to Upton Park and has now seen his team go 14 matches without a clean sheet in all competitions.
Sunderland, who had drawn 2-2 at Liverpool and beaten Manchester United 2-1 on their two previous outings, remain a point from safety.
A sleepy game leapt to life in the 19th minute when Manuel Lanzini teed up Mark Noble for a first-time drive that Sunderland goalkeeper Vito Mannone brilliantly tipped onto the visitors' bar.
Mannone's opposite number, Adrian, gave the home fans a scare when he elected to perform some kick-ups after receiving a back-pass, allowing Wahbi Khazri to charge down his attempted clearance.
Moments later, Khazri almost embarrassed the Spaniard with an opportunistic free kick from deep on the right that hit the top of the crossbar.
But it was West Ham who made the breakthrough after van Aanholt failed to get enough pace on the ball as he attempted to clear Sam Byram's hopeful pass down the hosts' right flank.
Antonio picked up the pieces, leaving van Aanholt trailing by languidly dragging the ball onto his left foot and then curling a low shot into the bottom-left corner.
Like Allardyce, Jermain Defoe was up against his former club and he spurned a chance to equalise early in the second half when he lashed wide after James Collins had misjudged Lee Cattermole's lobbed pass.
Van Aanholt and Yann M'Vila also shot off-target as Sunderland began to make inroads, while Adrian saved sharply with his feet from Jack Rodwell.
West Ham substitute Andy Carroll almost made the game safe when he met Byram's knock-down with a full-blooded volley, but the ball cannoned back into play off the bar.
Back at the other end, Byram thwarted Rodwell and Adrian saved one-handed from Dame N'Doye, before Dimitri Payet went close to swelling the hosts' lead by flashing a left-foot volley narrowly wide.