Football: Berkovic class sets Hammers on course

West Ham United 4 Middlesbrough 0
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The Independent Online
EYAL BERKOVIC inspired West Ham to round off their season in style and give themselves a chance of sneaking into Europe. Fifth place in the Premiership provides them with a chance of reaching the Uefa Cup via the Intertoto Cup.

They achieved their goal despite a catalogue of injuries and the suspensions of Steve Lomas, Shaka Hislop and Ian Wright, and to prosper on the continent they must keep their little Israeli midfielder, who was at the heart of almost all their moves at Upton Park.

It was his perfectly weighted pass from a short corner that unleashed Frank Lampard for the opener after three minutes. Twenty minutes later Berkovic inspired West Ham's second, splitting Middlesbrough's offside trap as Trevor Sinclair found Marc Keller to extend the Hammers' lead.

Berkovic capped a memorable performance with a slide-rule pass that found Sinclair and his delicate chip beat Mark Schwarzer, who was again at fault as West Ham grabbed their fourth goal when Sinclair's strike hit the bar but Paolo Di Canio was on hand to end the season in style.

Goals: Lampard (4) 1-0; Keller (26) 2-0; Sinclair (75) 3-0; Di Canio (78) 4-0.

West Ham United: Forrest, Potts, Ruddock, Ferdinand, Minto, Berkovic, Lampard, Foe, Keller, Di Canio, Sinclair (Cole, 83). Substitutes not used: Sealey (gk), Coyne, Lazaridis, Mean.

Middlesbrough: Schwarzer, Cummins, Pallister, Vickers, Gordon, O'Neill, Townsend, Summerbell, Mustoe, Ricard (Armstrong, 46), Deane (Campbell, 73). Substitutes not used: Beresford, Maddison, Baker.

Referee: G Willard (Worthing).

Bookings: West Ham: Foe, Ruddock, Lampard; Middlesbrough: Ricard, Vickers.

Man of the match: Berkovic.

Attendance: 25,902