Youngsters do well in Hong Kong

West Ham United have enjoyed a tremendous first day at the Hong Kong Soccer Sevens - winning two and drawing one of their three group matches.

Tony Carr's young side needed to win the final game of the day to make sure of their place in Sunday's knockout last-eight stage and did so with a 2-0 win against Urawa Red Diamonds of Japan - the champions of this international tournament in two of the last three years. Finishing top of Group A sets up the young United side for a quarter-final against the Australian Institute of Sport on Sunday, after they finished second in Group B with a similar record of two wins and a draw.

An opening goal from striker Zavon Hines, back from his loan at Coventry City, was cancelled out before a late winner from England Under-18 captain Jordan Spence sealed a 2-1 success in their first match of the day against Eagles Football Club from China.  That was quickly followed on Saturday morning by a "dour" 0-0 draw against Hong Kong FC. That set United up for the decisive match against the might of Urawa and a competitive contest was won 2-0 by the English team with Hines, with an early strike, and set-piece specialist Junior Stanislas on target.

"We really had to win the last game," said a delighted Carr. "They have won the tournament in two of the last three years and we beat them 2-0. It was our best performance of the day and I am really pleased we are in the last eight. It is a really big tournament with teams from different places, and we have done very well so far. We have qualified as group winners and we will see what happens in the quarter-finals."

He added: "It is a great experience for the boys, a cultural experience as well as a sporting experience. It is crowded with people here and there is very little space. They build upwards here, sky rises everywhere and the boys are thoroughly enjoying it. We have been here for four days and, although we had a couple of days to acclimatise, there is nothing like actually playing in these conditions and in the competition to find out what you are about."

The rest of the brief for Saturday was rest along with the opportunity to cast an eye over potential rivals for Sunday, including PSV Eindhoven and favourites Aston Villa - the defending champions. Carr said he also liked the look of Celtic, who "look very strong and are up for it". Having taken a team to Hong Kong previously, Carr knows what the competition is all about and is aware things get tougher on the second day when the matches increase from seven minutes each way to ten.

"We are playing on a good sized pitch and it is a different approach," he said. "The key to it all is just keeping possession. If you lose possession in this heat, it is a long way and a long slog to get it back." The academy director had a final word for West Ham United captain Tony Stokes, who is proving the figurehead of the team. "He is our elder player. He is leading the line well and as team captain on this trip is setting a good example. He has played every game and is doing well."