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West Brom manager Roy Hodgson only looking upwards after comprehensive victory over Sunderland

Baggies boss focuses on points gap with the top six rather than the bottom three after successive victories, while Martin O'Neill has no complaints over drubbing

West Brom manager Roy Hodgson sang the praises of his players as they romped to a 4-0 demolition of Sunderland at the Hawthorns.

The victory lifts Albion into the top half of the Premier League and puts even more space between them and the bottom three, something Hodgson feels he should no longer have to talk about.

“It’s 11 points plus goal difference, that’s an awful lot of points,” he told reporters.

“I don’t think I need to be worrying about answering questions about the relegation zone.

“All credit to the players, they did start the game so well, their passing was good, the movement was good, we were very intensive with our defending and pressurising."

The hosts had the perfect start to the game with a goal in the opening three minutes through Peter Odemwingie, and a second goal just before half-time took the wind out of Sunderland's sails and made life much easier for the Baggies against the previously impressive Black Cats.

“We were concerned because Sunderland were the in-form team,” continued Hodgson.

“Luckily we started well and got the early goal which eases the tension.

“The fans were very good throughout the game and luckily we were able to go on for a resounding win in the end but that was largely due to the fact that Martin had to throw caution to the wind and play a very offensive system.”

Odemwingie added a second goal in the opening minutes of the second half, with debutant Keith Andrews adding a fourth in injury time, and it was the hard working midfield and the play of lone front man Marc-Antoine Fortune that impressed the Baggies boss the most.

“I thought all three of them [in midfield were good],” he added.

“You pick out Mulumbu, some would pick out Morrison and others could easily pick out Keith Andrews.

“I thought all three of them did a sterling job for us in the middle of the park.

“But once again the player who will probably be the unsung hero was Fortune. I thought he played another fantastic performance of front play, I don’t think there was one moment where he didn’t secure it and he put the defenders under so much pressure.

“After the game he is so disappointed that he didn’t score a goal, if he can continue to play like that we’re going to get plenty of goals.”

For the visitors it was their heaviest defeat since Martin O’Neill took charge in December, but the Black Cats' boss was honest in his assessment of the game, admitting his side were nowhere near their recent best.

“We were second best for all of the first half and on the day we were well beaten and we deserved to be beaten,” he told reporters.

“It has been unlike us in recent times not to compete, and not to have a real appetite for it. We were just second best, particularly in the first half."

The Black Cats were so poor in the first half that O’Neill made two changes at the break with Nicklas Bendtner and Fraizer Campbell coming on, but the two strikers were unable to get their side back into the game, and the Northern Irishman admitted that they didn’t deserve anything from the game.

“In the second half we tried to change things and push forward.

“We had one or two chances, but deep down I’m not even sure we deserved that today.

“We were well beaten. West Brom were better than us on the day and it was a tough one to take.

“Today we didn’t have that energy [of recent weeks]. There’s no excuse today, we were well beaten.”

The result moves West Brom to within a point of Sunderland, and Hodgson was quick to set out the goals he has for his team for the remainder of the season.

“There are 12 games to go,” he said.

“We’ll lose some of those games because we’ve got some very tough fixtures, but at the moment it’s been two magnificent back-to-back wins.

“Our goal is to stay in the league and get a third season, and make ourselves a more stable Premier League team, and I would say on our last two performances we’re doing that.”

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