Strikers seal Boro victory

West Ham United moved to within five points of safety with a second successive Premiership win at Upton Park this afternoon. Two first-half goals from Bobby Zamora and Carlos Tevez were enough to ensure the vital 2-0 victory against Middlesbrough.

Zamora fired the Hammers in front after less than two minutes. Carlos Tevez played the ball in from the right flank, it fell to Zamora in the box and he struck it cleanly past Mark Schwarzer.

Minutes later Tevez went on another darting run down the middle of the park after Lucas Neill played the ball out of defence. He twisted and turned his way into the box but Abel Xavier made a crucial clearance before he could strike.

Hammers passed the ball artfully across the pitch, culminating in a shot from Zamora which Schwarzer calmly held.

With fifteen minutes gone George McCartney played a long ball upfield and Zamora stretched out his left leg to tip it over Schwarzer, but he couldn't make contact and the keeper claimed.

Moments later Middlesbrough went on the attack as Stewart Downing swung in a corner, which Yakubu tussled for with Robert Green, but the Hammers keeper was blocked off and awarded a free-kick.

Zamora came close to turning in a Tevez cross to the far post after 22 minutes but Schwarzer blocked the shot.

Middlesbrough applied the pressure two minutes later, with Mark Viduka attempting an overhead kick inside the box, but it travelled wide of the target.

George Boateng fired in a powerful drive after half-an-hour but Green gathered comfortably.

Tevez played a neat ball through to Zamora but the Hammers striker was crowded out by three Middlesbrough defenders and the ball immediately travelled upfield to Downing, who went on a darting run down the left wing. The Boro midfielder was brought down on the edge of the box by Nigel Reo-Coker but Mark Viduka's free-kick sailed well high and wide of the mark.

Five minutes before half-time Etherington let fly with a left-footed drive from outside the box, but Schwarzer caught it. Schwarzer was forced to make another save moments later after Noble pressed forward and flicked the ball on for Tevez to fire in an effort.

On the stroke of half-time Tevez claimed his third goal in three games to put the Hammers 2-0 up. McCartney played the ball in from the left, it bounced off the knee of Andrew Taylor and fell into the path of Tevez, who calmly slotted it away.

Just after the break Tevez played an excellent ball through to Reo-Coker, but George Boateng put in a well-timed challenge to deny the Hammers' skipper a clear run on goal.
Hammers were denied a penalty in the 56th minute when Taylor appeared to handball Tevez's ball into the box but referee Mark Halsey waved play on.

Just after the hour mark Emmanuel Pogatetz was booked for a foul on Tevez after some tenacious footwork from the Argentine striker.

In the 65th minute Hayden Mullins came on for Reo-Coker and two minutes later Kepa Blanco replaced Zamora, who appeared to be struggling with an injured knee.

Luis Boa Morte joined the action in the 81st minute when he came on for Tevez and made at instant impact, charging forward into the box but his shot was cleared out for a corner by Schwarzer. Hammers held firm to claim the win and keep their first Premiership clean sheet of the year.

West Ham United: Green; Neill, Collins, Ferdinand, McCartney; Bowyer, Re-Coker (Mullins, 65), Noble, Etherington; Tevez (Boa Morrte, 81), Zamora (Kepa, 67).
Subs not used: Carroll, Boa Morte, Spector,

Middlesbrough: Schwarzer; Xavier, Woodgate, Pogatetz (Huth, 68), Taylor; Parnaby (Johnson, 55), Boateng, Rochemback (Euell, 87), Downing; Viduka, Yakubu.
Subs not used: Jones, Gook Lee

Referee: M Halsey

Attendance: 34, 977