Closer than close
The match has finished, my initial felings of disappointment have been replaced by pride in my team now.
Ok we drew to a sucker punch in injury time once more, but I can write this knowing we throughly outplayed a giant of European football.
My 11 year old son turned to me with about 10 minutes left, he said that he could now say that he had seen some of the best players in the World, my reply was that he had also seen Ac Milan.
In the build up to the match we were shorn of half the first choice 11, Diarra was out, Defoe struggling and Campbell nowhere to be seen, to compound the issue Sean Davis had gone down with flu, the situation was such that we could only name 6 subs rather than the alloted 7, Milan could name Ronaldinho, Pato and Seedorf on their bench.
Pompey went with Kanu up top with Crouch in his first start of the season, Glen Little made another comeback on the right, and Traore resumed his left sided loan partnership with Belhadj, Kaboul again stood in for Campbell.
The game started and Milan pinged the ball about for a while, but after a few minutes Pompey found their feet and really got in Milans faces, Richard Hughes a little too zealously and he gained an early yellow card.
If Pompey were overawed, it didn't show at all, Traore and Belhadj started to burn up the left, Kanu and Crouch took turns to hold up play, and our defence countered anything the megastars could throw at them.
Inzaghi gave us the biggest scare when he lobbed Jamo after a deflection off of Kaboul sat up nicely for him, but the net only bulged on top. Next up he hit the post after seeming destined to score, tha ball landed nicely in James' arms, but that was not to say Pompey wern't creating at the other end, Crouch scuffing a great chance from a Kanu cross which bounced harmlessly to Dida.
Glen Little showed all the touches he displayed years ago when with Burnley, his close control enabled Johnson to bomb forward and deliver more than one cross into the area, while Diop and Hughes snapped away in the centre.
Crouch tried to nod back one of the Johnson crosses to his strike partner Kanu, but the slippy surface did for him.
The half-time whistle blew and Pompey were more than in it, Milan had found all about Fratton park!
The second half kicked off with sustained possession from the Italians, but then something happened, the Pompey crowd as one started to incessantly chant 'Tony Adams Blue and white Army' all 4 sides of the old ground echoed out, the atmosphere turned white hot and flooded back memories of Stockport a few years back, (if you were there you'll get the comparison) Pompey started to move the ball like we had come to see Milan do, every blue shirt was passing and moving, the Milan superstars were chasing shadows, and Pompey were genuinely outplaying the supposed gentre.
Glen Little looked to have slotted home, but it was only the side netting rippling, and then on 62 minutes Glen Johnson sent over another cross, this one was guided by sat-nav right onto Kabouls head, and the giant Frenchman powered home to send Fratton into orbit and beyond. The atmosphere cranked up another notch, and Jonno did it again, this time Kanu was on hand to knock home his first goal since May 17th and Pompey were 2 up with 17 minutes to play.
Ronaldinho was summoned from the bench and after 10 minutes the referee decided that Glen Johnson cleanly whipping the ball away was enough to warrant a free-kick right in front of goal, the toothy one took one step and cracked in a pearler past James.
Davis came on for the knackered Kanu and it was hold on time, Pompey tried to keep possession and did so, the 4th official waved for 3 minutes add-on, and our mate the ref did it again, another dodgy free-kick resulted in the ball squirting to Pompey's left, a hack forward and Inzaghi slotted home.
Milan played off the park and heading home with a point they barely deserved.
Tomorrows paper will probably read 'Pompey hold Milan', but anyone who saw the game will know it was a case of Milan hold a rampant Pompey.