Big Sam delighted with Sunderland win

West Ham United manager Sam Allardyce has hailed his team following their 2-1 Barclays Premier League victory at Sunderland.

Early goals in each half from Andy Carroll and Mohamed Diame put the Hammers in control before Stewart Downing was denied a third by a superb Vito Mannone save.

Substitute Adam Johnson set up a tense finale with a curling shot into the top corner but West Ham, with Adrian and his defenders throwing themselves in front of everything to maintain their advantage.

Speaking to West Ham TV, Big Sam praised his team, his staff and the Club's fans following a win that took the Hammers to 37 points and the cusp of Barclays Premier League safety with six games remaining.

"We have sent all the West Ham fans, staff and the players home happy because we're all delighted after getting a well-earned victory at the Stadium of Light," said Big Sam.

"I think that our start was critical to the final result. The quality of the ball into the box made all the difference because it saw the best of Andy Carroll to come to fruition and he got the first goal with the header.

"There was a spell when we didn't pass the ball as we'd have liked so we had to soak up a bit of pressure, but when we got the passing right, we were going from one end of the pitch to the other and really causing Sunderland lots of problems.

"The goal after half-time was again at a critical time and Sunderland really ran out of ideas and we were controlling the game. I was really hoping Stewart was going to get off the mark with his one-on-one but unfortunately their keeper made a brilliant save. That would have been 3-0 and the game dead and buried.

"Then, lo and behold, you can never relax in the Barclays Premier League because it will kick you if you're not careful. They got the goal which lifted them and there was a bit of desperate defending at times which needed to be had which we did brilliantly and we got an outstanding victory.

"That's 37 points now, which is only one point behind our total from last year when we had 38. This time we've got 37 so it hasn't been quite as bad as it's been made out to be!"

West Ham have collected more points since New Year's Day than Arsenal, Manchester United, Southampton and Newcastle United.

It is 22 points from 12 games since the defeat at Fulham, and six wins from the last nine league matches - superb form by anyone's standards.

"To pick up more points than those teams shows you when the squad is fit, and I was saying this during our dark period, we would produce performances and results when we got the squad back and well. Certainly we needed them to get out of the trouble we were in at that time.

"To claw your way out so magnificently and to create the winning opportunities we have done has been great. We have won six out of nine matches, which is the best run that we've had.

"Of course it was needed because the position we were in and we've drawn away from that danger zone now, so we need to chill out a little bit and make sure we produce the performances in our final six games are as best they can be and try to get as many points as we can.

"If we can match the 46 from last year that would be a target and if we can push up the league, I know the Chairmen remind me there are extra millions to be got by finishing higher up the table. It's a huge benefit with the extra finance because it can get you that extra player in the summer who can make all the difference."

While West Ham scored from a Mark Noble corner and a knockdown from Carroll, West Ham repeatedly played their way through the Sunderland defence with some slick pass and move football - pleasing both Big Sam and the fans who never stopped singing at the Stadium of Light.

"There was some good passing football. We've always promoted it, too. You saw Sunderland were nervous and they kept passing the ball to us and we kept breaking on them and causing them a huge amount of problems.

"You've got to be able to master your nerves and produce the best from the ability that you've got and on a night like this under the floodlights at a place like Sunderland, we produced the sort of football that helped us win a very important game.

"It's never easy to win away from home in the Barclays Premier League."

Now, with their top-flight position all but secured, leaders Liverpool are next on the fixture list.

Brendan Rodgers' Reds visit the Boleyn Ground on Sunday afternoon, when the footballing world will be watching to see if West Ham can upset the favourites yet again.

"We've taken the pressure hugely off ourselves to really have a go at this game now and I think that they are the most in-form team in the league now alongside Everton.

"We've got to be the ones who muscle in on Liverpool and see if we can upset them. Lots of people in the world of football will think we won't have a chance with the form that we're in and, I suppose, on paper they're right but in this league you never, never know.

"So, the players will give their all on Sunday and let's hope that's enough to upset the leaders of the Barclays Premier League."