Boss hails his Anfield heroes after thrilling winSTEVE Clarke insisted his players fully deserved their three points in a thrilling 2-0 Anfield win that saw them leapfrog Liverpool into eighth spot in the Barclays Premier League table.
The Baggies boss returned to the club where he spent last season as first-team coach and was proud of his troops' gutsy display – as well as the double-clinching victory over the Reds.
And he believes Ben Foster’s 77th-minute penalty save from England skipper Steven Gerrard gave his team-mates the impetus to go on and win the game.
Four minutes later, Gareth McAuley headed the visitors in front and sub Romelu Lukaku put the icing on the cake with a second in the first minute of stoppage time.
“I’m delighted for the lads,” said Clarke.
“Tonight for me they are all heroes.
“I’m just satisfied that my players have got some reward for a hell of an effort tonight.
“To come here and win is a great effort from the players.
“They’ve given me everything.
“When things were going well it was easy. You don’t need to praise them too much because they’re getting the results and getting the plaudits.
“But even in recent weeks, when things haven’t been going so well for us, they’ve given me everything they’ve got.
“Some of the performances were good and some not so good.
“But you can never ever question the commitment of the players at West Bromwich Albion Football club – and to me that’s really important.”
He added: “I was pleased with the way we set out from the first minute.
“I thought we were aggressive in our pressure and tried to do the right things from the start of the game.
“When we had the ball we tried to pass it.
“As I said before the game, for me, at this moment in time, Liverpool are playing as well as anyone in the Premier League.
“To come here and get that result, with the performance as well, I don’t think you can say we were lucky because we weren’t.
“We played well in the game and I think we deserved to get three points.”
The Hawthorns chief felt the decision to award a spot-kick for Jonas Olsson’s challenge on Luis Suarez was harsh.
But he reserved special praise for man-of-the-match Foster, who as well as stopping Gerrard’s penalty, made a string of world-class saves.
“I haven’t seen the penalty again yet but I’m assured it’s harsh,” said Clarke.
“It probably is Ben’s best performance of the season.
“But when you come to Anfield, you know Liverpool have players who can create chances, so you know at some stage your keeper is going to have to make some saves.
“Unfortunately, because of the referee, he had to make an extra save!
“But I think that was important for us as well because when he made that save - from a penalty that should never have been given - I think it gave us a bit of positive momentum and belief to go and win the game.
“When you see Ben play tonight there is absolutely no reason why he can’t play international football, except for the most important one – he doesn’t want to.”
Peter Odemwingie did not make Clarke's final 18-man squad but watched events unfold from the bench.
And the Baggies chief insisted the Nigeria international's support was invaluable to his team-mates.
“He was involved, that’s why he was here" he added.
“He was in the dressing room and he was delighted for his team-mates.
“He was here to help and support them and that’s what being part of a squad is all about.
“Peter makes his contribution and he’ll make his contribution in the season going forward.”