In the first edition of our weekly On This Day series, we take you back in time to relive a memorable West Ham United clash that occurred on this very day two years ago.
Cast your minds back to the late winter of 2016, “7 Years” by Lukas Graham was at the very summit of the United Kingdom Music Charts and a British nurse had just been admitted to a London Hospital believed to be suffering from the deadly Ebola virus.
Meanwhile, in the world of football and more specifically the Premier League, West Ham United were enjoying their final season at the Boleyn Ground and their first under former player turned manager Slaven Bilic.
They were celebrating the landmark year by challenging for European football and heading into the visit of Sunderland to Upton Park, sat seventh in the English Top-Flight standings, fresh from an FA Cup Fifth-Round away thrashing of Blackburn Rovers.
Whereas, their visitors on the day under ex-Hammers boss Sam Allardyce, journeying back to East London for the first time, were fighting a very different cause in the league.
The Black Cats had just enjoyed a two-week break having been knocked out from football’s oldest competition, when they did play last they pulled off a shock home win over Manchester United, one that saw them remain in 19th position with a bleak outlook.
The affair was to be played out on a chilly Saturday lunchtime in E13 and televised live on BT Sport, with the stakes very high for both teams for very different reasons.
An hour prior to kick-off at Upton Park when both starting Xls were announced, both side’s danger men could be clearly pointed out, the players with the capabilities to have a profound impact.
For the hosts, these included the likes of in-form winger Michail Antonio and French playmaker Dimitri Payet, who had been setting East London alight that season and for the visitors, ex-Hammer Jermain Defoe and winger Wahbi Khazri were sure to prove threats.
Against the backdrop of a classic Boleyn Ground atmosphere, the match could begin, and the away side were able to put up more of a fight than expected in the Capital.
However, they couldn’t make some early pressure pay and soon received a warning sign in front of the opposite goal, Manuel Lanzini laying off home skipper Mark Noble to unleash a long-range effort that Vito Mannone somehow tipped onto his bar.
Less than ten minutes later, the hosts led, and it would take a moment of individual Antonio brilliance to crack open the Sunderland shell, a real Goal of the Season contender.
Keeping the ball in on the right, the future England star cut in, leaving three defenders for dead and finding the far bottom corner with a delicate weaker foot finish, the first in a run of three in three.
While the away side did threaten at the other end, Bilic’s boys could create the better quality of opportunities, substitute Andy Carroll striking the woodwork again from close-range late on.
But, the home side were more than happy to settle for the three points, warding off any possibility of a comeback from Allardyce’s men in the match that remained with a robust defensive display.
The victory proved the second in a run of three back-to-back 1-0 home triumphs over the North West team for the side from East London, bringing the day’s visitors back to Earth after their besting of the Red Devils.
As a result, Bilic’s men climbed a single place back to sixth in the standings ahead of a hectic spell, boosting their hopes of reaching the Champions League, they eventually finished a position below, having to settle for Europa League.
Meanwhile, the defeat miraculously managed to move Allardyce’s men up two places and out of the bottom three due to results around them, the club finished in this position, in the end, surviving by just two points in the 2015/2016 campaign.