Striker's ninth goal of the season downs Hammers
Delighted Saido Berahino hailed a ‘massive’ win for Albion after his first-half strike downed West Ham at The Hawthorns and secured three crucial points.
The striker pounced on Morgan Amalfitano’s low cross to convert from close range and net the only goal of the game against the Hammers.
Victory leaves the Baggies five points and a healthy goal difference clear of the drop zone as the season reaches its final throes.
Matchwinner and Academy graduate Berahino said: “It wasn’t just a big day for me, it was big for the club.
“We needed those three points, it was really massive that we hung on at the end because it was getting a bit too tight.
“I’m just happy that’s over and we’ve got the three points.
“From the preparation after the Manchester City game, we all knew it was a big, big game today.
“It was like a final to us and it was good that we got the three points and the clean sheet, which was really important as well.
“We’ve got three games left now and we have to look forward to them.”
Berahino’s strike was his first since netting the only goal in Albion’s 1-0 victory over Newcastle on New Year’s Day – the Black Country club’s last home victory.
With it, he becomes the Baggies’ leading scorer in the Barclays Premier League this term having bagged five times – nine in total in all competitions.
“Today I just made sure that I gave it my all and made sure that if a chance came, I took it,” the 20-year-old said.
“The most important thing was the three points, which we got, so I’m really happy,”
Albion’s biggest home attendance of the season - 26,541 - were present to watch the victory and made incredible noise throughout, spurring the team on from the first whistle to the last.
Berahino added: “The atmosphere was brilliant. The Hawthorns has been really good in this tough period that we’ve had and the fans have been brilliant.”
Despite away wins at Swansea and Norwich, victory was head coach Pepe Mel’s first on home soil since taking charge in mid-January.
It came after dramatic last-gasp 3-3 draws against Cardiff and Tottenham respectively in Albion’s last two home matches.
“We’ve had our ups and downs but it just shows how good the group is to stay together as a unit and battle us through it,” added Berahino.
Albion have now won three and drawn two of their last seven heading into their final three fixtures against Arsenal, Sunderland and Stoke.