West Ham manager Sam Allardyce was full of optimism going into the final eight games of the season after his side's 1-0 win over struggling Sunderland.

A last gasp goal from the Hammers' top scorer Diafra Sakho was enough for the Boleyn Ground outfit to clinch all three points and take their tally to 42 points.

This is the same number of points the Irons won over the whole of last season. The Sunderland win also ended their run of just one victory in 12 games.

Big Sam said his side deserved to win the game and it put the team in good shape ahead of the international break which he will use to get the likes of Enner Valencia and Winston Reid back to full fitness.

Allardyce said: “it’s nice to get a win right at the death with our leading scorer. It makes everybody’s life a little more comfortable this weekend.

"I’m really chuffed at keeping a clean sheet as well, which has been our main downfall from a winning position for the past 10 games.

"Even though the game was a bit scrappy, I think we deserved to win.”

“It puts us in a better frame of mind going into the international break. It comes at the right time for us because we want to overcome the injuries and get back Valencia and Reid – two very important players that will make the squad stronger.

"The strength in depth of the squad is slowly returning and, hopefully, with our run of games, we’ll win more matches and try to finish as high as we can.”

The return of Jermain Defoe rattled a few of the home faithful’s cages and the former Tottenham Hotspur striker should have given the Black Cats the lead, missing a one-on-one chance from 12 yards out.

However, for the opposing side, Sakho notched his first Premier League goal since New Year’s Day, with Allardyce delighted that the Senegalese has found his touch again.

Big Sam said: “He’s the leading scorer for headed goals this season. He was delighted that he did what he did and for him, being where he is, at West Ham United in the Barclays Premier League, for his first season is one hell of an achievement.

"He hasn’t scored so many recently but that was a very important one for us.”

In the build up to the goal, substitute Nene appeared to have fouled midfielder Seb Larsson, much to the anger of the new Sunderland chief Dick Advocaat.

However, Allardyce said the Irons deserved a bit of luck.

“It was probably a foul, but it’s about time something went in our favour”, said Allardyce. “When things are going for you, those decisions go for you and when they go against you then it can be devastating. It was for Sunderland because we scored on the end of it."

After next week’s international break, the Upton Park side travel to the King Power stadium to take on bottom club Leicester City, before returning to east London to face Mark Hughes’ Stoke City side.