Football: Hazard achieves total dominion

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The Independent Online
West Ham United . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

Tottenham Hotspur . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3

MICKY HAZARD was asked by Ossie Ardiles if he wanted to start on the bench at Upton Park yesterday, following his exertions against Norwich 24 hours earlier. 'You must be joking,' Hazard replied. With a cake covered in 34 candles six weeks away, every game counts for the Tottenham midfielder.

Hazard's reaction - and Ardiles' acquiescence - were soon vindicated. The pounds 50,000 purchase from Swindon (Who said Spurs are no good with money?) gradually emerged as the dominant influence on an effervescent derby which came close to being a classic.

Hazard's growing involvement in a match filled with sweeping moves reflected the game's passing from West Ham's control to Tottenham's. Hazard and his fellow midfielders were bystanders as Billy Bonds' purposeful troupe took a deserved lead after 11 minutes. Matt Holmes, a tireless left-sided midfielder, timed his run neatly through Spurs' back line to reach Tim Breacker's Garryowen before shooting emphatically past Erik Thorstvedt from 15 yards.

The Hammers were in command and a year in which Spurs' intimate affairs have been highlighted by small screen and High Court appeared destined to end in similarly undignified fashion.

But then came Hazard. He quickly worked a chance for Darren Caskey and, suitably inspired, his team-mates responded. For all their fluent, intricate patterns, Spurs' 34th- minute leveller arrived via a set-piece: Darren Anderton's corner was nodded back by Steve Sedgley for Jason Dozzell to score from close range at the second attempt.

Having produced a strike straight from the training manual, Tottenham marched ahead with a build-up and finish lifted from White Hart Lane's substantial anthology of golden goals. West Ham stood bemused as Hazard, assisted by Dozzell and Nicky Barmby, orchestrated a fine break through the middle, Hazard concluding the charge of the lilywhite brigade with a glorious shot around Ludek Miklosko.

'After I scored I was jogging back to the middle and the referee told me to hurry,' Hazard said. 'I asked him if he knew how old I am]' The Wearsider, a noted cross-country runner as a schoolboy, showed little sign of weariness and, midway through the second half, helped create Spurs' third.

Anderton had nearly scored with a 45-yard lob when Hazard and Caskey combined to free him again. Tony Gale failed to intervene, allowing Anderton the space to place the ball between Miklosko and post. Sol Campbell then contrived to miss from six yards but any further score would have been unjust to the Hammers, who became only Spurs' second victims in 13 Premiership matches.

West Ham United (4-4-2): Miklosko; Breacker, Gale, Potts, Burrows; Marsh, Bishop, Butler, Holmes (Jones, 72); Morley, Chapman. Substitutes not used: Rowland, Peyton (gk).

Tottenham Hotspur (4-1-3-2): Thorstvedt; Kerslake, Calderwood, Sedgley, Edinburgh; Samways; Anderton, Hazard, Caskey; Dozzell, Barmby (Campbell, 77). Substitutes not used: Austin, Walker (gk).

Referee: G Ashby (Worcester).