West Bromwich Albion 1-0 West Ham United: Berahino hands Baggies big win (video)

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West Bromwich Albion sealed a crucial 1-0 win over West Ham United at the Hawthorns on Saturday, as Baggies boss Pepe Mel sealed his first home win since arriving in January.

The Baggies scored after 11 minutes, as Saido Berahino’s finish from close range proved to be enough to see off the Hammers. Andy Carroll had plenty of chances for the visitors but he came up against an inspired Ben Foster in goal for West Brom as the England international made two stunning saves in the first half to deny Carroll.

A nervy ending played out, as the home side hung on despite relentless pressure from West Ham.

With the win West Brom now give themselves a five-point cushion above the relegation zone, while West Ham are only six points above the drop zone after losing their fourth-straight game.

(MORE: Latest Premier League standings)

Early on it was all West Ham, as Ben Foster denied Andy Carroll at the near post from close range after Kevin Nolan laid the ball back to Carroll inside the area. A driving run from Stephane Sessegnon set up Morgan Amaliftano who whipped the ball across the goal and Berahino scored his first goal in 15 games by crashing the ball home into the roof of the net.

Despite going ahead West Brom were living life dangerously, as Carroll then turned provider for Nolan but just as the West Ham skipper was about to finish the ball was cleared away for a corner. Carroll was then denied after a superb stop from Foster, with Guy Demel’s cross finding the England international at the back post but his diving header was clawed away to safety. Both teams continued to pour forward in the rain as Demel saw his effort saved by Foster at the near post, then Berahino broke free as the Baggies countered and the ball fell to Graham Dorrans but he smashed his effort just wide.

After the break the Hammers tried to get back into the game as they controlled most of the possession at a slightly nervy Hawthorns. The sun was out, at last, as West Ham piled on the pressure by launching plenty of balls into the box which kept Foster on his feet. Sessegnon was causing problems on the right win, as the Frenchman cut inside and slammed an effort into the side netting as West Brom broke free. Carroll continued his personal duel with Foster, as the powerful forward headed wide of the near post with West Ham going for it.

In the 61st minute Berahino should’ve had his second of the game as he was set up by Sessegnon six yards out but tamely stuck his effort straight at Adrian as the Baggies pushed to go 2-0 up. West Brom were by far the better side as the second half wore on but they couldn’t extend their lead. In comparison West Ham were lackluster in attack, as a banner reading “Fat Sam Out” was unfurled by the away fans.

West Brom did hang on to seal a massive three points, as the Baggies inch closer to securing their place in the PL next season.

LINEUPS

West Bromwich Albion: Foster, Reid (Morrison, 47′), Dawson, Olsson, Jones, Amalfitano, Mulumbu, Dorrans, Brunt, Sessegnon (Anichebe, 81′), Berahino (Yacob, 91′)

Goal: Berahino (11′)

West Ham United: Adrian, Demel, Tomkins (Collins, 33′), Reid, McCartney, Nolan, Noble, Diame, Jarvis (C. Cole, 79′), Carroll, Downing (J. Cole, 67′)

Report: Newcastle activates $12m release clause of ex-Arsenal youth

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Reports out of Turkey say Newcastle United have finally struck the transfer market for a new No. 10.

[ MORE: West Ham adds Diop ]

Aksam reports that Rafa Benitez got the Magpies hierarchy to activate a near $12 million release clause for Besiktas midfielder Oguzhan Ozyakup.

The 25-year-old was part of Arsenal’s youth set-up until 2012, making two League Cup appearances in 2011-12 before moving to Besiktas.

Dutch-born Ozyakup is 35-times capped with a goal for Turkey, twice captaining the Crescent-Stars.

Ozyakup lost playing time to Talisca this season, and registered just four assists in 24 appearances. In 219 appearances for Besiktas, he’s posted 27 goals with 50 assists.

Like the move for Newcastle?

Lukaku pens inspiring post on hard-scrabble upbringing

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Manchester United and Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku has an inspiring and emotional post in The Players’ Tribune which tugs at the heart strings and explains his competitive fire.

[ MORE: West Ham adds Diop ]

Lukaku talks about how his family’s poverty caused him to become a fierce competitor in the hopes of meeting his dreams head-on and providing for his family.

The Belgian, 25, scored twice in his side’s 3-0 World Cup-opening win over Panama earlier this week, and is now far removed from his youth, but he tells his story as if it lives fresh in his mind.

From The Players’ Tribune:

There were even times when my mum had to “borrow” bread from the bakery down the street. The bakers knew me and my little brother, so they’d let her take a loaf of bread on Monday and pay them back on Friday.

Lukaku also talks about racism in football, his debut for Anderlecht, and that aforementioned competitive drive. It’s 100 percent worth the read.

West Ham signs club record center back from Toulouse

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West Ham has reportedly set a club record with its latest signing under new manager Manuel Pellegrini.

Issa Diop is the player, the 21-year-old Toulouse captain and center back costing the Irons around $29 million.

[ MORE: Arsenal signs Leno ]

Diop scored three goals with an assist and eight yellow cards in 31 Ligue 1 matches this season, giving the young defender 95 apps, six goals, three assists, and 23 yellows since debuting with the senior team at 18.

Capped by France at every level below the senior team, Diop’s 2.2 interceptions per game ranked sixth in Ligue 1.

Toulose finished 18th in Ligue 1, but won its promotion/relegation playoff to stay in the French top flight.

From WHUFC.com:

“I am very happy to sign for such a historic, English club, and I hope to show my best here. I am a very ambitious player and West Ham is a very ambitious club, as we’ve seen with the appointment of the new coach. I hope to help the team win lots of games and make the fans happy.”

Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show: Episode 3

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In the third episode of Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show, England pulls out a massive win while VAR finds its way into the World Cup spotlight.

[ LIVE: World Cup scores ] 

There will be plenty more to come over the next few weeks, with the show coming via the Men In Blazers.

Click play on the video above to watch the first episode in full.