Mark Noble earns praise as Slaven Bilic fixes sights on Europe

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Football News

West Ham boss Slaven Bilic hailed Mark Noble and insisted Europe is within their grasp after they hammered West Brom.

The midfielder's double, after Cheikhou Kouyate's opener, gave them an impressive 3-0 win at The Hawthorns to move them into fifth in the Barclays Premier League.

They leapfrogged Manchester United on goal difference, although United will regain fifth spot if they avoid defeat at home to leaders Leicester on Sunday.

The Hammers face United at Upton Park on May 10 and Bilic knows the Europa League is close, but refused to discuss the Champions League.

He said: "Now a European spot is a realistic target for us. It wasn't at the beginning of the season but we're not going to deny it or be big-headed.

"Unfortunately it's not safe still and the gap between us and Liverpool and Southampton is less than the gap to the Champions League.

"We are talking about Europe, it's all in our hands and it's very simple. You don't have to be a genius to do it.

"If we beat Swansea our target is going to be closer for us and then we have a game against Manchester United, that is and was our approach from the start of the season and it's the only logical approach.

"There's no point to calculate but we are in good form."

Noble netted his sixth and seventh goals of the season and the midfielder now has four in his last two games following a brace against Watford.

Bilic added: " If we are going to talk about Mark we will have to talk for a long time, not only today but the way he trains, plays and behaves since the start of the season - he is basically unbelievable. His personality, not only his captaincy, his role and the number of yards he runs.

"With the ball he is exceptional. I knew he was a good player who would give you everything on the pitch and run like crazy but he has surprised me. But hi s finishing in training and here, the second goal, didn't surprise me. I expected it because he did it in training."

The Baggies could have gone ahead after a fast start but Craig Gardner missed three fine chances before the Hammers took control.

Albion are safe but have not won in their last seven games and boss Tony Pulis, who gave a full debut to 17-year-old forward Jonathan Leko, knows their misses were costly.

He said: It's so disappointing. We needed one of those early breaks to go for us. How (Michail) Antonio kept Craig's effort out I'll never know.

"We were unlucky with their first two goals. Once a team as good as West Ham get those breaks they punish you."

He added: "Jonathan did fantastic. The kid had raw talent. He just needs games at this level to develop."

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