Date:Saturday February 23 2008
Pompey were all out for revenge after a poor showing in the return fixture on Wearside ended in defeat. The match itself though was flat at best, dire at worst.
The match itself was decided by Pompeys first successful penalty since Muntari smashed in against Reading, Defoe scoring where Kanu, Benjani and Kranjcar had all failed.
If I wanted to be harsh I could describe the game like this:
But although that would about sum it up, I will try to put some meat on the bones!
As the game kicked off, it was soon obvious that a point would be enough for Sunderland, their dire away record was enough to curb their enthusiasm, but Pompey would be asked to break them down, something we are starting to get used to at Fratton Park.
Muntari was first to try his luck, his fierce drive from a free-kick was too high though and ended up with the fans on the Muilton end. From a similar position on the other side of the pitch, Kranjcar bettered the effort with one that would have ended in Alverstone road had the roof not been put on in the summer.
The match lacked any fluency, Pompey huffed, but struggled in vain to create anything for the recalled duo of Defoe and Baros to feed upon, the one time the ball reached Defoe in a scoring position he was ruled offside before he miscontrolled in front of goal.
Referee Dowd wasn't helping matters with an officious display, his whistle went off more often than Ashley Cole on a night out.
A clash of heads between Diop and Whitehead amazingly didn't end with a hospital trip for either, the smack was audible from my seat at the top of the South stand.
As the half drew to a close, Glen Johnson had a running arguement with Dowd, he had been penalised for fouling as he pushed forward, complaining at the decision he just found himself in the book, referee Dowd further endearing himself to the Fratton faithful.
Pompey came out with more purpose for the final 45,after 5 minutes Defoe finally worked the 'keeper with a half volley after Baros' strong run down the right wing, but his shot lacked any real pace or direction.
Glen Johnson started to storm forward in some of his trademark runs, in one, his left footed strike had Gordon saving low to his left.
The match still just ticked away, Diop continued to give away possesion with Muntari, Diarra was harrying well though and Kranjcar was regularly winning free-kicks with his quick feet and skill.
Kanu came on for Baros and immeadiately started to hold the ball up and feed others.
Kranjcar found himself up against the rotund Andy Reid once more in the Sunderland penalty area, he skipped past the salad dodger and tried a Johan Cruyff drag back on Bardsley, Bardsleys leg did the rest and Pompey had a golden chance to break Snderlands resistance, the penalty was a bit weak, but maybe the ref had weighed it in with Evans' blatant shirt tug On Hreidarsson moments earlier.
Defoe stepped up and smashed the ball into the net, no shimmies and stutters in his run up. Pompey had the lead and instantly looked a better outfit. Kranjcar and Kanu started the back-heels and flicks, and we looked a threat again. Defoe was found with a lovely square ball, his attempted cross seemed to strike a hand, but we had had our benevolence from the referee for today.
The match petered out, we had 3 welcome points, and Sunderland were left without one singular strike on target, they have only 2 points on the road, and if you can't hit the target, you can't score a goal.
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Date:Saturday February 23 2008
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