Middlesbrough 2 West Ham United 0

Last updated : 17 April 2006 By Footymad Previewer
Middlesbrough triumphed in this FA Cup semi-final dress rehearsal with goals from strikers Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Massimo Maccarone.

Whether the result will have any bearing on the Villa Park clash this Sunday remains to be seen.

Middlesbrough have perhaps gained a psychological advantage but manager Steve McClaren will not take anything for granted, with a European place guaranteed for the Cardiff finalists.

There was increased speculation at the Riverside Stadium over whether this could be one of the last games of McClaren's reign.

The former Manchester United coach has become the favourite to take over the England job and there was speculation that an announcement could be made early next week.

Whatever the verdict of the top brass at the Football Association, McClaren has certainly made his mark this season as Boro have retained their Premiership status and qualified for two semi-finals.

West Ham had their fair share of attacking play without posing too many problems for home goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer and Hammers boss Alan Pardew will certainly hope for more of a cutting edge at Villa Park.

Middlesbrough came close to taking the lead after 21 minutes following a brilliant move involving Frank Queudrue and Mark Viduka, but the Frenchman shot just beyond the post after bursting into the area.

West Ham goalkeeper Shaka Hislop raced off his line to deny Hasselbaink in the 32nd minute but a goal from the in-form striker was not long delayed.

When teenager Matthew Bates pulled the ball back from the right Hasselbaink crashed the ball into the net for his 17th goal of the season and his ninth in the Premier League.

Hasselbaink is on fire at the present time with 13 goals in 19 games since the turn of the year.

Middlesborough brought on substitute Malcolm Christie for Viduka at the start of the second half when West Ham increased the tempo in a bid to pull the game around.

The home team, however, were awarded a penalty after 57 minutes when Shaun Newton brought down Adam Johnson.

With Yakubu not in the line up, Italy international Maccarone stepped up for the spot kick and calmly place it past Hislop.

West Ham gambled with a triple substitution when they brought on Carl Fletcher, Bobby Zamora and Dean Ashton.

It was a bold move by Pardew but the trio did not make much of an impact.

The visitors fought hard to save the game but Middlesbrough showed resilience in defence.

Veteran Teddy Sheringham headed wide for the Hammers while at the other end Christie tried an acrobatic scissor-kick that was not far off target.

His effort earned generous applause from Middlesbrough fans who were delighted to see the injury prone striker back in action.

In the closing minutes Schwarzer saved from Ashton but overall Middlesbrough deserved the points.