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Hammers too hot for Cats in capital

04 Apr 2009 17:00:00

Hammers too hot for Cats in capital

Junior Stanislas scored on his first start for West Ham as Gianfranco Zola's youngsters won 2-0 to push Sunderland towards the relegation zone.Stanislas, 19, broke the deadlock against the visiting Black Cats just before the break, then 20-year-old James Tomkins doubled the advantage after the restart at Upton Park.Hammers boss Zola had spoken on the eve of the game about his youngsters stepping up following injuries to Carlton Cole and Scott Parker - and they responded immediately.West Ham have always been proud of nurturing talent, back from the 1960s when they provided England with the players to win the World Cup.Frank Lampard, Rio Ferdinand, Joe Cole and Glen Johnson are among the current England players who started at the club, and Zola has always said there would be more to come. Tomkins has been highly regarded for a while and Stanislas is now the next in the limelight.Victory moved West Ham back up to seventh in the table - which should be enough for continental football - and it leaves Ricky Sbragia's men in deep relegation trouble.While West Ham went into the match with thoughts on the Europa League on the back of five Premier League matches without defeat, the visitors had not won in five and were hovering above the drop zone.The signs were not good for Sbragia's men when Kieran Richardson, back from suspension, kicked the corner flag rather than the ball when he attempted to take an early set-piece.Despite that comedy moment, Sunderland did nearly take the lead when Grant Leadbitter was sent through by Djibril's Cisse's flick but Robert Green blocked the finish.Zola's men offered a threat through David di Michele, who controlled a ball with his shoulder before turning and firing a volley just wide.Di Michele, just after the half-hour mark, then scooped the ball over the Sunderland defence but Herita Ilunga looked every inch the full-back he is with his sliced finish.It was no surprise that Di Michele played a part in the opener, two minutes before the break.The 33-year-old Italian helped the ball down the line for Luis Boa Morte to race into the area, and he provided a perfectly weighted pass just beyond centre-back Danny Collins. Stanislas tapped in and wheeled away to celebrate his first senior goal for the club.It was cruel on Sunderland, who were on the attack seconds before the goal.Green had turned away Cisse's powerful drive - which was going wide in any case - and West Ham launched their counter-attack from the resulting corner, catching out Anton Ferdinand and his team-mates.Ferdinand, who left West Ham at the start of the season, was given a warm reception from home fans on his return but his task in the second half was to dent his former club's European hopes and get his new team back on level terms.Phil Bardsley forced Green just after the restart with a near-post drive - but the visitors found themselves two goals behind in the 53rd minute.Diego Tristan's effort was tipped away for a corner and Mark Noble's set-piece was headed home by Tomkins, who had got in front of Ferdinand to net his first for the club.It could have got worse for the visitors but Craig Gordon made three saves in less than a minute.The first was from Matthew Upson's back-post header, then from Tomkins again when he met the resulting corner. The rebound eventually fell for Stanislas and the Scotland goalkeeper was down sharply to block his drive.Jonathan Spector was carried off on a stretcher after an aerial challenge, with James Collins coming on for his first club appearance since February.Spector's injury looked serious and caused a


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