Club News

Clarke hails his Baggies heroes

Boss thrilled with his team's tremendous win over Chelsea

STEVE Clarke hailed his men for an exhilarating all-round performance to beat European champions Chelsea 2-1 at The Hawthorns.

Shane Long opened the scoring in the tenth minute and immediately paid an emotional tribute to his late Nan by unveiling a T-shirt with the message ‘Rest in Peace Nan’ printed on it.

An unfortunate Billy Jones own goal six minutes before the break levelled the match at half-time.

But Long turned provider for Peter Odemwingie to head a 50th-minute winner – and the hosts stayed resilient at the back to make it three successive wins.

The victory lifted the Baggies up to fourth in the table on 23 points from 12 games – and just a point behind Roberto Di Matteo’s Blues.

“I’m absolutely delighted,” said Clarke.

“The players can really feel pleased with themselves tonight.

“They put in a good shift.

“I said to them at half-time they deserve to be on that pitch.

“They were more than a match for Chelsea.

“When we conceded we were in control of the game, passing the ball well, and looked like a good team.

“It’s a great three points for us and a good performance.

“We showed good quality attacking plays, two fantastic goals and a dogged, determined defensive display at the end to get the win.

“I think it would be wrong to speak too much about Chelsea leaving one or two perceived big names out rather than talk about how good we were.

“It’s a great time to be at the club, the club is in a good moment, the team are certainly in a very good moment.

“I think if the supporters want to dream a little bit, they can – but, within the camp, we’ll keep our feet on the ground.”

Albion have scored in every Hawthorns game this term, producing six wins from seven in the top flight and Clarke added: “I think we’re always attack-minded.

“I think we play with an attacking purpose.

“Every team I’ve picked this season has had at least two forward players, whether it’s Peter from the right or two forward players.

“We’ve always played with that mentality.

“James Morrison is an attacking midfield player and we’ve encouraged Youssouf to be more attacking this season.

“We’ve always played with a mentality to attack the opposition, especially here.

“I think we’ve done it to great effect.”

And the Albion chief again reserved special praise for Long, who took his tally to four Barclays Premier League goals this season on a difficult day for the Ireland striker.

“I ran out of words to describe Shane Long a number of weeks ago,” said Clarke.

“He’s been absolutely outstanding for us and he just produced another fantastic performance in what’s been a difficult week for him.

“He wanted to play and he’s going back to Ireland tonight to be with his family for the next two or three days."