Portsmouth - Diop hands it to 'pool
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Liverpool 1 - Pompey 0



Attendance: 43,378

Diop hands it to 'pool

Liverpool v Portsmouth Match Report

Tony Adams was involved in his first Premiership game as a manager, however it's not the easiest of starts as his Portsmouth side are away to Liverpool at Anfield. For Portsmouth fans the past few days have been a real rollercoaster ride - however things on the South Coast are now settling down, and Portsmouth fans are a lot happier now that Adams is in charge.

Portsmouth went into this game as underdogs, having not won at Anfield since 1951, and things were made even tougher by the fact that Liverpool currently sit top of the league, and were brimming with confidence following last week's famous 1-0 victory at Chelsea. Further, Pompey's last six league visits to Anfield have only seen them score two goals. Things couldn't have been tougher for Tony Adams, but could he get a result for his first game in charge?

Adams surprisingly left Defoe out of the starting line up, opting for the 4-5-1, with our back four being Pamarot, Kaboul, Distin and Belhadj, as Campbell and Johnson were out injured. Our five-man midfield consisted of Traore, Diarra, Davis, Diop and surprisingly John Utaka. Peter Crouch played as a lone striker, indicating that Pompey were using him as a target-man in what seems to be a defensive style of play. 43,378 people crammed into Anfield to see this exciting encounter.

Portsmouth began the game shooting towards the Kop end, and Liverpool began pressing early - forcing Portsmouth to concede corners left right and centre in the opening five minutes. Gerrard started brightly, running our defence ragged. After 9 Minutes Pompey's luck almost runs out as Dirk Kuyt hits the post. Jermaine Pennant played a lovely ball down to Arbeloa who managed to pick out Kuyt. His shot was expertly saved by ex-Liverpool man David James. What a fantastic save - saved some blushes. Nadir Belhadj eventually got the ball away.

At the 15 minute mark Gerrard beat offside trap from another pinpoint Jermaine Pennant ball and played it across to Kuyt. Kuyt held back slightly, expecting the cut-back and so missed Gerrard's cross. That was a massive let-off for Pompey, because on another day it could've been a completely different story. Two minutes later Gerrard was caught on the edge of area by Traore in a challenge that didn't look intentional. Gerrard's free kick hit the wall. Another Pompey let-off, as we all know how dangerous Gerrard can be from 2 yards out of the area.

Attention for Pompey fans briefly turns to the Emirates as Harry Redknapp's Spurs take the lead at the Emirates over their rivals Arsenal. Back at Anfield however, Pompey are still under pressure. Babel broke free down the left after 20 minutes, and crossed the ball but the advantage of numbers gets the better of this Liverpool attack as Diop gets the ball away. Possession is yet again given away by Pompey, but Diarra with a great tackle on Xabi Alonso to save the blushes.

Liverpool were applying increasing pressure but Pompey were defending well. Pompey fans everywhere were starting to wonder whether or not we would be able to keep a clean sheet at Anfield, although some respite could be taken by the fact that Liverpool have only been leading at Anfield this season for a total of 18 minutes. Pompey looked like they weren't going to mount a serious attack due to the fact once a ball is played to Crouch, there aren't many options open to him. Pennant was looking dangerous, and was orchestrating most of the Liverpool attacks.

After 23 minutes Diarra's freekick into the Liverpool box was drilled towards Kaboul who headed it wide. This positive movement from the Blues was the catalyst that inspired them to play patient football. Two minutes later Diarra plucked the ball out of mid-air in what can only be described as a tremendously skilful move. The ball was played towards Utaka who went past Aurelio and found Diop, who crossed the ball to Crouch who picked it up near the Liverpool byline. Crouch passed the ball to Davis on the edge of the area, whose cross found Diop who directed a header directly to Pepe Reina. A fantastic chance for Pompey to go ahead at Anfield. Portsmouth were certainly improving and you can't fault Portsmouth's defensive play.

Liverpool then had a freekick ten yards outside of area, which Gerrard hit low against the wall again. The ball rebounded to Carragher who showed Gerrard how to put a shot on target, as his shot sailed through a sea of blue shirts into David James' hands. A few minutes later, and the play moved to the other end. A Diarra freekick to Crouch at far post was wasted - a real missed opportunity, but showed that Pompey are growing, and beginning to make a mark in this game.

On the 35 minute mark Babel went down injured which introduced a small break in play whilst he was being treated on the byline. This break allowed Liverpool to regroup, and a few minutes later the dangerous Gerrard found Dirk Kuyt who hit the side netting - half the Liverpool fans thought it had gone in. Just before halftime, Liverpool had a corner as a result of a Gerrard attack that was deflected out by Distin. The corner was taken short and quick and Arbeloa shot just wide after the Pompey players were caught by surprise by the short, quick corner.


The second half began quietly with little event. After 52 minutes Diarra tackled Gerrard and brought him down with a fantastic tackle, however the referee took a different view and booked the Pompey midfield maestro. The lull in play allowed news to trickle through that Arsenal were now winning 2-1, and now finally things seem to be going Portsmouth's way. Not only is Redknapp losing, but Pompey are playing very very well defensively, forever frustrating the Liverpool strikers.

After 56 minutes history repeated itself as Gerrard crossed the across goal to Kuyt again, but Kuyt missed and Pompey got away with it. Five minutes later, Distin forced a corner after stopping Gerrard. Gerrard whipped the ball into the near post, and Kuyt got a head to it but missed by literally inches. Kuyt looks incredibly dangerous, and is not too far away from scoring a goal himself.

Benayoun came on for Pennant after 60 minutes, as Pompey play very well defensively. Almost immediately, Niko Kranjcar replaces Armand Traore on the left, which shows that Adams is going for a more attacking option in Niko. Five minutes later, Gerrard again beats the offside trap, however his first touch took it too far and it was a wasted opportunity from a Red point of view.

The deadlock was finally broken on the 76th minute mark. Diop has some explaining to do as he used both hands to punch the ball away from an advancing Hyypia in the Pompey area. Only the Lords knows what he was doing, as Pompey were playing so well defensively keeping Liverpool at bay. Diop was booked for his troubles, and Gerrard slotted away the resultant penalty in the bottom right hand corner. Diop must take 100% of the blame there.

Five minutes later and Pompey make what appears to be a confusing substitution. Diarra, who was quite frankly inspiring in the Pompey midfield, is being taken off for Richard Hughes. Diarra had aggravated a niggling injury and so his night has ended early unfortunately. From here on in it was Portsmouth's night, as they started to pile the pressure on Liverpool. Just after the 80 minute mark, Kranjcar attacked with a ball to Belhadj who crossed the ball into an unmarked Utaka. Utaka completely missed the ball, and his attempt had all the makings of an unconfident striker.

Utaka finally made way way for Defoe, with five minutes to spare. Some Pompey fans would comment that this was too late, as Defoe has been outstanding so far for Portsmouth this season. The final five minutes were uneventful, other than Defoe going down in the box, but the referee Steve Tanner waved away Defoe's claims. Three minutes of time were added on, as Keane came on for the outstanding Gerrard in injury time. Keane had one chance late on, but James was quicker to the ball. Pompey's disappointment was further compounded by jammy Redknapp who's side fought back from 4-2 down to draw 4-4 against Arsenal.

As the final whistle went, the 1-0 result was obviously harsh on Portsmouth, who defensively were very well placed to at least earn a point. The Liverpool attack were at them all the time, and the Pompey defence, although under the cosh, were impressive and dealt with everything that was thrown at them. Diop's completely unprovoked handball was the only difference between the two teams, and quite frankly I hope Adams gives him the hairdryer treatment!

My star man, other than Gerrard of course, was Lassana Diarra. Yet again, he showed that he is absolutely world class, and I only hope that his injury was only minor and that he'll be back at the weekend for the Wigan game - we certainly need him. Also I think Adams got the tactics spot on other than the fact that Defoe was brought on a bit later than I expected. The 4-5-1 is a defensive formation, and it kept the league leaders at bay, however I feel that as we were piling on the pressure the earlier introduction of Defoe would maybe have got us an equaliser.


Written by PFCGino.

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Writer: paultsmouth Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Wednesday October 29 2008

Time: 9:54PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

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Whats a 6ft 12" bloke doing jumping with his hands in the air?
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29/10/2008 21:59:00

Pompey played well defensively, could've gotten a point if it wasn't for Diop forgetting that they were playing football, not volleyball. What did you think of Adams not starting Defoe and only playing him for eight minutes?
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29/10/2008 22:15:00

johndoe - adams was right to play 4-5-1 and go for the point - it almost worked! defoe will play at home for sure!
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29/10/2008 22:27:00

Respectable score. At least we weren't stuffed.
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29/10/2008 22:42:00

well played big tony. 4-5-1 worked well, and almost got what it desreved. we did better than chelsea did against them, and they have had best start to the league ever!
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30/10/2008 00:25:00

JohnDoe, not far from JermainDefoe, no wonder your upset he didnt play much!
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30/10/2008 00:27:00

After this game, we are not in a bad position, some winable games coming up in Wigan and Sunderland. Not sure if we should give diop some red pants and a cape for his idiotic superman impression. But hey, what can you do. On another note, I think I saw Utaka do more in this game than his previous 5, and he tracked back a little bit as well. Diarra was fantastic again. But we really miss Johnson's raids down the right as we looked a little unbalanced. Managed to get up for the game as well 3.00am here and i was happy what I saw for the first 75 minutes, and after the goal. We put pressure on them, But still unsure why JD only got 4 minutes??? PUP
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30/10/2008 04:36:00

update: maybe Utaka just did not like harry
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30/10/2008 04:40:00

Poor guys.U almost got the points & helped us.Anyhow long way to go & we have enough time to catch them.
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30/10/2008 05:14:00

Diop was closer to getting a hand on the ball than HR's new keeper was at Arsenal.
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30/10/2008 09:35:00

Oh well i'm looking on the bright side, at least our loss kept Liverpool clear at the top, it's about time some one broke the Man utd, chelsea monopoly.
Steve C
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30/10/2008 09:44:00

In all honesty most of thought we would get beat, but using all our hope & belief thought we night have pinched a draw. Well so bl00dy close yet... PS. Harry you can have Diop on a free. Diarra 30m.
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30/10/2008 09:55:00

that must have been a sickeber to lose only by a penalty to the scousers......unlucky lads.....
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30/10/2008 10:31:00

I went to this fixture last year, we were awful and got stuffed 4-1. This was a vast improvement. Only listened to the game but sounded like a good performance overall. Surely we shouldn't crucify the wardrobe for one mistake? Amazed at what sounds like a transformation in Utaka - very interesting indeed.
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30/10/2008 10:47:00

finally got home at 5.30am - was out on my feet... thanks for the report PFCGino.
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30/10/2008 10:59:00

couldnt really fault anyone for the performance, but what was papa thinking - well he wasnt thinking was he...
tbh i didnt think that gerrard did much, there were not really any players from either side that you could say 'they didnt play we', as most did. diarra was outstanding, we were lucky for him to stay on as long as he did as he most certainly was not fit and picked up a knock early on, when he came off i saw him go down the tunnel with an icepack.
4-5-1 was exactly the right formation to play, i want to see defoe play all the time but had we gone 4-4-2 i think we would have been slaughtered, leaving defoe out was the right call and one i do not think that HR would have made so all credit to adams already.
we could have got a point, and that would not have been unfair i dont think but if we miss the chances that we had, and they were really good ones from diop and utaka you get punished - beaten but not disgraced at all!
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30/10/2008 11:03:00

As usual Scumpool get the usual lucky break.
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30/10/2008 13:17:00

Great report Gino!! Nice and short too :D Pompey deserved a point from the game but we must start to score goals away from home - only three this term and all at Everton.
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30/10/2008 19:08:00


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