Hammers turn it on to make last eight
West Ham produced a terrific first-half performance just when they needed it as they swept into the quarter-finals of the main cup competition of the HKFC Philips Lighting International Sevens yesterday.
Needing a victory to qualify from pool A after labouring to a win and a draw in their previous two matches, the Hammers defeated two-time Hong Kong sevens champions Urawa Red Diamonds 2-0, thanks to goals from forwards Zavon Hines and Junior Stanislas at Football Club.
The London side, competing at the sevens for the first time since 2002, made their presence felt again as they booked a place against the Australian Institute of Sport, who qualified from pool B.
The win over Urawa delighted West Ham academy director Tony Carr, who believes his young side could go far.
'It was our third game after a slow start and we set out to really get at them right from the beginning,' he said.
'We got a bonus with the first two goals so I am really pleased with that. Now, it's the knock-out phase and anything can happen.'
Carr said Hines was one of the 'finds' of West Ham at youth level.
'He's [Hines] a London boy and he can look a bit raw at times but he can produce the goods and can be excellent. We're looking forward to the knock-out stages, let's see where it takes us,' he said.
'We set off to try to win our first two games because you would qualify immediately for the quarter-finals. But we struggled a bit against Hong Kong Football Club [0-0, having beaten Eagles 2-1] so we had to go into the last game knowing we needed to win to qualify.'
West Ham's victory over the J-League side was even more impressive given the fact they beat the 2005 and 2006 Hong Kong sevens winners.
'I didn't realise we beat the two-time sevens champions so I am very pleased. They are a good side but I thought we played very well, especially in the first half,' added Carr, who was optimistic his side could go all the way.
'If we play like we did in the first half against Urawa, we'll have a very good chance.'
Urawa coach Kenichi Amano said his team had been punished by West Ham's two quick goals in the first half.
'We conceded the first goal when they counter-attacked and our players weren't quick enough coming back to defend,' Urawa said.
Meanwhile, fellow English Premiership side Aston Villa also reached the quarter-finals after three straight wins. The Villans beat Yau Yee Select 1-0, which was followed by a 2-1 win over Bulova Rangers and a 1-0 win over PSV Eindhoven.
The Glasgow Rangers All Stars and the Barclays Wealth All Stars also fared well in the masters tournament to reach the quarter-finals, with Rangers earning the most lop-sided victory of the day in a 6-1 rout of Blake Garden.