Hammers Could Get A Shock!

Last updated : 19 May 2009 By Boro Mad

BORO: Jones, Hoyte, Wheater, Huth, Pogatetz, O'Neil, Bates, Arca (Walker 88), Downing, Sanli (Adam Johnson 81), Aliadiere (Emnes 67).
Subs Not Used: Turnbull, Taylor, Alves, McMahon.

WEST HAM: Green, Neill, Tomkins, Upson, Ilunga, Behrami, Parker, Noble (Collison 56), Kovac (Tristan 69), Cole, Sears (Di Michele 57).
Subs Not Used: Lastuvka, Lopez, Nsereko, Spector.

Stewart Downing turned in an inspired display as Middlesbrough shook off their relegation fears to book their place in the FA Cup quarter-finals for the fourth successive year.
The England international curled home a brilliant fifth-minute free-kick to get his side off to the perfect start, and was a thorn in West Ham's side throughout as the Teessiders claimed just their third win in 18 attempts in all competitions.
Tuncay Sanli's 20th-minute volley gave Gareth Southgate's men breathing space, and both the Turkey striker and Jeremie Aliadiere, who also reminded the Riverside Stadium faithful of his ability with a fine individual display, had chances to kill off the Hammers long before the final whistle.
Scott Parker passed up a glorious opportunity to give his side a foothold in the game when he shot inches wide on the hour, while substitute David Di Michele made life difficult for the home defence as time ran down.
But having been denied victory at the first attempt by Herita Ilunga's equaliser at Upton Park, Boro were not about to succumb a second time and ultimately ran out comfortable winners in front of a crowd of 15,602 to book a trip to Everton in the last eight.
Defeat on Teesside ended Hammers boss Gianfranco Zola's hopes of lifting the trophy he won twice as a player at the first attempt as a manager, but he could have few complaints.
Boro will now turn their attention to Saturday's difficult clash with Liverpool as they attempt to end a run of 14 league games without a win.
Southgate had insisted before the game that, contrary to the message apparently sent out by an "unfortunately-worded" letter to some of the Riverside regulars, that he wanted them to make as much noise as possible, while at the same time admitting his players needed to give them something to shout about.
With goals having been at a premium on Teesside this season - they had scored only once in their last five games in all competitions and just one in their last nine Premier League outings - that may have looked like a tall order.
But with 20 minutes of the game gone, the Teessiders had rediscovered their killer touch to put the Hammers firmly on the back foot.
Record signing Afonso Alves was left on the bench as Southgate instead turned to Tuncay and Aliadiere in attack, but it was Downing who produced a top-drawer finish to get his side off to the perfect start.
The England international, whose only other goal so far this season came in the first game, curled home a stunning free-kick to leave Robert Green grasping at thin air and edge his side closer to the last eight.
Downing might have doubled his tally with 16 minutes gone when he ran on to Matthew Upson's criminally careless pass in-field, but he dragged his shot wide of the far post.
However, the second goal arrived just four minutes later when central defender James Tomkins, in his desperation to cut out Gary O'Neil's long ball to Aliadiere, succeeded only in hooking it into the path of Tuncay.
The Turkey international, who had not scored since the first week of December, still had plenty to do, but he controlled his volley superbly to beat the stranded Green.
West Ham responded briefly with midfielder Radoslav Kovac forcing a smart 23rd-minute save from Brad Jones but with Downing, Aliadiere and Tuncay giving the hosts the kind of cutting edge they have lacked so often this season, it was they who continued to dominate.
They might have all but ended the tie as a contest five minutes before the break when Downing cushioned O'Neil's raking cross into Tuncay's path, but the striker lashed his left-footed shot high over the bar.
Boro could have strengthened their position further within three minutes of the restart when full-back Justin Hoyte picked out Aliadiere inside the penalty area and he turned smartly to fire in a shot which flew just wide with the help of a crucial deflection off Tomkins.
Di Michele, who had scuffed a volley within seconds of his arrival, turned provider on the hour to hand Parker a gilt-edged chance to drag his side back into the game, but he pushed his shot agonisingly wide of the post with just Jones to beat.
But Green too had to be on his toes to keep Aliadiere out seven minutes later after Hoyte and O'Neil had combined to play him in.
Matthew Bates and Tuncay both went close as time ran down, but the win had already been assured.