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West Ham’s ugly win is fitting for Big Sam’s return

PUBLISHED: 11:50 29 February 2016 | UPDATED: 11:50 29 February 2016

West Ham United manager Slaven Bilic (left) gestures as Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce (right) looks on from the touchline during the Barclays Premier League match at Upton Park, London.

West Ham United manager Slaven Bilic (left) gestures as Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce (right) looks on from the touchline during the Barclays Premier League match at Upton Park, London.

PA/Press Association Images

Hammers boss Slaven Bilic insists they deserved to beat Sunderland

West Ham United's Michail Antonio celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game during the Barclays Premier League match at Upton Park, London.West Ham United's Michail Antonio celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game during the Barclays Premier League match at Upton Park, London.

The return of Sam Allardyce and the chorus of boos we were expecting turned into a ripple of polite applause, but it was perhaps fitting that this victory on Saturday was almost a homage to the former boss – West Ham won ugly!)

Manager Slaven Bilic was adamant that his team deserved to win this game and though Big Sam and most neutrals would argue with that, any win, however you get it, is welcome at this stage of the season.

“I know we created more chances and we scored a goal,” said Bilic backing up his claim that they deserved the three points. “We hit the post twice, we were denied a penalty for a foul on Dimitri Payet and then we have more than a few situations where we tried to be too cute.”

That was certainly true, but there were also times when the battling Black Cats scythed through the West Ham defence and only poor finishing from Jermain Defoe and good goalkeeping from Adrian kept them at bay.

Sunderland's DeAndre Yedlin (left) and West Ham United's Dimitri Payet (right) battle for the ball during the Barclays Premier League match at Upton Park, London.Sunderland's DeAndre Yedlin (left) and West Ham United's Dimitri Payet (right) battle for the ball during the Barclays Premier League match at Upton Park, London.

“Until you score the second goal in the Premier League, the game is not safe,” said Bilic. “In fact you are not even safe then, but it does give you more confidence.

“They created a couple of chances and played some good football in the second half, but if you are trying to tell me they deserved to win that game – no way.”

Winning ugly is the term that springs to mind and it is also refreshing to know that when Payet, Manuel Lanzini and Emmanuel Emenike are not firing on all cylinders, this team has others who can prove to be match-winners.

Michail Antonio’s run and superb left-foot finish proved the difference between the two teams and Bilic was full of praise for the leaps that the winger has made since his arrival in the summer.

“He is a good example of the new generation of players who come in and get a chance to show how good they are,” said the boss.

“He probably dreamed about the Premier League for a few years at Forest and even before that in non-league football. He got it in the end and he waited for his chance, because at the time we had a few players that were in front of him.

“He continued to train hard and then when he got his chance, he used it big time and now he is becoming a player of massive importance to us.”

Antonio robbed Patrick van Aanholt of the ball on the right touchline, before beating two defenders and curling a left-foot shot into the far corner.

“He has improved a lot since he came here and his first touch and last touch are much better,” said the manager. “His quality of work on and off the field was never in question and he is obviously enjoying it and we are enjoying it too and long may it continue.”

Antonio is one of those players who always plays with a smile on his face. His ‘Homer Simpson’ celebration backed that up, but as long as he is scoring vital goals like that, he can do what he wants.

It was an ugly win in the end, but it is what Sam would have wanted - only for his relegation-haunted team.

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