West Brom boss Slaven Bilic paid tribute to his table-topping side as they eased to a 2-0 victory over basement side Stoke.
Goals from Matt Phillips and Hal Robson-Kanu did the damage as the Baggies went top of the Championship and stretched their impressive unbeaten run to five games.
But Bilic also called for more from his in-form team as they failed to score more at the bet365 Stadium against opponents who have only won twice in 15 league games this season.
“We were a different class,” beamed Bilic, who side leapfrogged Preston and went two points clear at the summit. “It was brilliant.
“But until that second goal I wasn’t happy with our performance.
“(Stoke) have some very good players on paper, some have played in the Champions League, but let’s be fair they are in crisis. The table doesn’t lie.
“It was pretty even until we got the second goal, after that we dominated.
“We’ve gone back to the top of the table, which is pleasing. It’s no secret what we want to do, we don’t hide it. But to (win promotion) we have to win as many games as we can.
“If we can execute our gameplan then we’ve got a chance, but we’ve got to keep winning.”
Phillips fired home in the eighth minute and Robson-Kanu made no mistake from the spot after Cameron Carter-Vickers fouled West Ham loan winger Grady Diangana.
And the victory margin could have been greater if Welshman Robson-Kanu had not headed against a post and had a shot saved late in the action.
“It wasn’t as if we were living on the edge, but you can’t be happy controlling the game at just 1-0 up,” stressed Bilic.
“It ended well and we started brilliantly, but after we scored we still had 80 minutes to go.
“I asked the guys to be more greedy. We did it and we did it at the end with class.
“We were counting on (Stoke) making changes and players who had not played much, we felt we were fitter than them.
“But it was a difficult away game, they were wounded. However, the players responded in the way I wanted. It’s a clean sheet, we scored two goals, it’s brilliant to win.”
Stoke struggled to create any clear-cut chances and frustrated caretaker manager Rory Delap admitted: “There’s not many positives we can take from that.
“They had two or three chances and were clinical, but we had no chances which was the most disappointing.
“We needed to be brave and we didn’t create a chance of note tonight – and that’s a lack of belief. I think the worry is that something could go wrong.
“We spent hours looking at the squad but the set-up didn’t work. We’ve got to take a proportion of the blame for the defeat, maybe we didn’t go simple enough.
“But we were far too lax and gave the ball away far too cheaply.
“It’s massively important the manager situation is sorted, but I’ve not been given a time frame as to when that will happen.
“It’s heart-breaking to see an empty ground at the end of the game, it was hard to watch and that’s not what this club is about.
“It’s hard for the fans and I sympathise with them. It’s not good enough at the minute.”
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