West Ham United are out of the FA Cup after going down to a 2-0 fifth-round replay defeat by Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium.
A stunning free-kick from Stewart Downing and an opportunist volley from Tuncay Sanli were enough to send Gareth Southgate's team through to a quarter-final date at Everton. Boro were the better side on the night as Gianfranco Zola's team struggled to discover the fluency they have shown in so many recent matches.
In truth, Southgate's side deserved their victory, despite the best efforts of the 3,500 West Ham supporters among a crowd of 15,602 at the Riverside. The visiting hordes did the club proud with the non-stop barrage of noise they produced from the South Stand.
Zola made four changes to the side that lost 2-1 at Bolton Wanderers on Saturday, bringing back captain Lucas Neill, handing a debut to Czech Republic international midfielder Radoslav Kovac and drafting in Academy graduates James Tomkins and Freddie Sears. The injured James Collins, Jack Collison, Jonathan Spector and David Di Michele were the quartet to make way.
Unfortunately for the Hammers, it was Kovac's foul on Tuncay 30 yards from goal that allowed England winger Downing to step up and curl an unstoppable set piece past Robert Green and into the net via the underside of the crossbar. It was the 24-year-old's second goal of the season - the other coming in the 1-1 draw between the two sides a week ago last Saturday.
The strike was Boro's first in front of their own fans since Afonso Alves netted in the 1-1 Premier League with Sunderland on 10 January, but the home supporters would have to wait just a quarter-of-an-hour before they were on their feet celebrating for a second time.
With West Ham struggling to find their usual passing rhythm, the visitors lost the ball on the halfway line, allowing Gary O'Neil to punt the ball towards the penalty area. Tomkins attempted to hook the ball clear, only for it to drop straight to Tuncay, who rifled a first-time volley past Green via a slight deflection off the England Under-19 defender.
The Hammers attempted to stage a comeback and could have halved their deficit on 22 minutes, only for Brad Jones to get down well to his right to hold on to Kovac's snap-shot. A minute later, Valon Behrami played a one-two with Mark Noble, only to slice his shot well wide of the target.
It was Boro, however, who were posing the greater threat and with Robert Huth and David Wheater shackling Carlton Cole and Sears, came close to a third on 40 minutes. O'Neil crossed from the right, Downing laid the ball back, but Tuncay could only blaze his shot well over from 12 yards.
Into the second period and the Teessiders continued to hold the upper hand, with Tomkins doing well to block Aliadiere's 48th minute shot into the side-netting. While the home side were completing their passes with ease, Zola's side were still struggling to find any sort of fluency.
As such, it was no surprise that the Hammers manager chose to send for reinforcements in the shape of Di Michele, Collison and, later, Diego Tristan. Sears, Noble and Kovac were all replaced as Zola searched for a formula to bring the visitors back into the tie. Parker came closest, but his left-foot shot rolled agonisingly wide of the post on the hour-mark.
It was not to be Zola's night and West Ham's misery was almost complete when Behrami picked up his fifth booking of the season for a foul on Downing. The Switzerland midfielder will now miss next Wednesday's Premier League trip to Wigan Athletic.
Middlesbrough continued to threaten as the game entered its closing stages, with Green showing his class to keep out goalbound efforts from the lively Aliadiere and Tuncay in quick succession. Matthew Upson also did well to block substitute Adam Johnson's shot in added-time, but it will be the hosts who travel to Goodison Park on 8 March.