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Tuesday, 25th July 2000

Celtic 2
West Ham United 1

by Graeme Howlett

The Hammers slipped to their first defeat of the pre-season at Parkhead tonight thanks to a goal either side of the half-time interval from the home side.

Tommy Johnson's strike two minutes before the break gave the home side the lead, before Petrov doubled the advantage just seven minutes after the break.

Paolo Di Canio, on his return to the club which he left on bitter terms four years ago pulled one back for the Hammers just sixty seconds later, but the home side managed to hold out to secure a much needed victory five days ahead of their first league game of the season.

The Hammers can count themselves unlucky to come away empty handed; Freddy Kanoute had two perfect opportunities in the first half to give the visitors the lead, but squandered both with only the keeper to beat on each occasion.

Neil Ruddock thought he had given the Hammers the lead on eight minutes, but his header from a set-piece was ruled illegal following a push by another player.

There was no Davor Suker in the Hammers line-up as expected much to the disappointment of the 1,000 travelling fans. However, they were treated to an evening of outrageous trickery from Di Canio who showed the Celtic fans exactly what they had been missing of late.

Former Hammer Eyal Berkovic, whose transfer made tonight's game possible made a brief appearance for the home side as a second half substitute, but was ineffective.

Even the late introduction of teenage prodigy Jermaine Defoe (for Freddy Kanoute) couldn't help the Hammers stumbling to defeat.

Your Views

"I was at the Celtic game, a big supporter of both. I agree with Paul Smith to some extent in that I was really disappointed that some Euro 2000 escapees having crossed another border descended the sectarian depths. Obviously something happened at half time as there was no more inappropriate chanting. Presumably if the club wanted to they could identify the culprits and take appropriate action.

The game itself was good for pre season, certainly better than previous games in the past v Dunfermline and Hibs. Thought Kanoute and Carrick looked good. Not sure about Dino Jorge, he got skinned by Bobby Petta - that didn't happen to any defender in the whole of the SPL last year."
Keith Vandermotten

"In response to Terry -

"U are talking rubbish. The trouble was started by mindless idiots who seemed to think it was England Vs Scotland and started singing Rule Britannia etc and lost the whole plot as the game was a friendly!!

"The trouble at half time was caused by the police very sensibly removing a couple of ring leaders and being jostled by the rest of the crowd. One guy in particular who was 2 rows behind me was most vocal in the rule britannia singing and then did not once join the HR C&B army rendition at the end!! So why was he there - IMHO just to cause grief. Another "ring leader" was later seen in the town with a mob of 4 or 5 other involved in a running battle with some Celtic fans.

"This game marked a water shed in my following of the hammers, I have never before been ashamed to call myself a hammers fan, but will not know travel to support the club should we reach Europe.

"It's a shame as I was looking forward to a great evening, after some joyful banter in the pub right next to the ground."
Paul Smith

"I was up at Celtic.

"Quality stadium. no doubt about that, and the atmos was superb, mind you, we could've done without the Rangers contingent causing a 'wee' bit of trouble in our end. All that no surrender to the IRA bollocks. it's not as if we give a f***. It was nice to hear the hammers in such fine voice at an away game. I haven't sung that much for many a season. For anyone who didn't go this is no myth... in the second half all 1000 (or whatever it was) of us out sung 40.000+ Celtic fans. in the second half we kicked off a massive round of Harry Redknapps claret and blue army, that lasted for 25minutes at least. the Celts were obviously getting the arse and responded with a chant of their own, but they just couldn't match our enthusiasm and soon sat back down again. it was quality. just like the old days!

"Anyone know what all that agro at half time was all about, it was right below us yet I didn't have a clue. it was a real shame to see those kids crying though, parents should be able to bring their kids to a game of footie without having to worry about it goin' off all around them.

"Anyway, the game. they definitely looked a bit fitter than us but with their season kicking off at the weekend that's probably about right. having said that we could've nicked a draw 'nae bother'. If only Sinclair had blasted that chance near the end when all he did was toe poke it back to the keeper. As for Larsson, he didn't impress me anywhere near as much as Kevin O'Donnell makes out. he's a quality player, no doubt about it but to suggest he gave Ruddock (Fat) and Stimac a torrid time is, i think, a bit ott. ok he ran around a bit but it's not as if he caused young Luke Bywater much bother.

"A final thought. why didn't Joe Cole (nice barnet) get a run out and where was Rio????"
Terry Malloy

"O'Donnell please about the same ..toss pot Larson extra special don't make me laugh."
Rangers Hammer

"Kanoute was definitely the big plus for us. We started very brightly but as legs became tired he became more isolated. Would have liked to see Suker alongside him. Di Canio was quieter than I expected in front of two sets of adoring fans but took his goal superbly. Stimac looked very solid and brought the ball out well. Ruddock looked like....well, Ruddock and Gary Charles still looks really uncomfortable. Larsson was probably the difference, which considering the players we still have to come into the team, and the fact that Celtic start their season this weekend, wasn't too disappointing. What did anyone make of the trialist Jorge who played on the right of the three centre backs?"
Huw Lewis

"I was at the game last night as a Celtic fan and I thought I'd give my opinion on your side.

"First thing I noticed is that Di Canio looks slower than he was when up here and I was surprised about how poor he was. Kanoute on the other hand was very direct and caused our defence all sorts of problems in the first half but he was quieter after the break.

"In the middle of the park you were missing a couple of players however you looked solid enough. Sinclair had a decent game as did Lomas. The others were largely anonymous.

"At the back Stimac and Ruddock were given a torrid time by Larsson. When he was substituted 25 minutes from time you could almost hear Ruddock and Stimac breathe a sigh of relief but then again Larsson is the striker that terrorised Italy at Euro2000 so i wouldn't get too disheartened.

"To be honest I don't think there is much difference between our two clubs at the moment apart from the fact that we have an extra special player in the shape of Larsson but I can see you coming in on the top half of the Premiership."
Kevin O'Donnell

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