Pompey 2-1 Man City
Saturday 10-02-07, 5:15pm
With just three points from the last eighteen victory was a must for Pompey over our visitors to Fratton Park this evening Man City, thanks to a late Kanu winner this was obtained with a 2-1 win.
Injury ruled out Linvoy Primus with Harry Redknapp deciding to make five other changes from the Wigan match, out went Lauren, Richard Hughes, Rudolph Douala, Benjani and Kanu with Djimi Traore, Matty Taylor, Sean Davis, Gary O'Neil, Lomana LuaLua and Andrew Cole coming in.
In a dream start Pedro Mendes scored another of his blockbusters to give Pompey an early lead, chances came and went before a Bernardo Corradi equaliser. A draw was looking likely, if not fair until substitute Kanu popped up with a winner.
The draw back of the win was the injury to Mendes as a result of a scandalously late challenge on him from Joey Barton, this so incensed Redknapp that he confronted the referee at half time and got sent to the stands for the second half as a result.
The key to this match was always likely to be a good start by Pompey and it doesn't get much better than a goal in the opening five minutes! Matty Taylor's corner was well punched away by Andreas Isaksson but it fell to Pedro Mendes who turned his man well before smashing home an unstoppable 20-yard effort through the crowd and past the Swedish International before he could react.
After efforts from Lomana LuaLua and Andrew Cole had gone wide of the target Isaksson was called into action again, and all before ten minutes were played. Some trickery from LuaLua worked an opening and his curling 30-yard drive destined for the bottom corner was tipped away for a corner.
Pompey were rampant and but for further saves by Isaksson from Taylor, tipping around the post, another long range effort from Mendes and once again tipping a LuaLua effort away for a corner we could have been maybe 5-0 up with less than thirty minutes played, while a cross almost found its way into the City net via a deflection off Micah Richards, but likely for them it went narrowly wide.
With half time approaching a moment of real controversy arose, with the ball nowhere in sight and no intent of trying to win the ball Joey Barton raked his studs down Mendes' Achilles to leave the Portuguese midfielder writhing in pain. The challenge eventually earned Barton a yellow card but saw Mendes carried off on a stretcher against City once again to be replaced by Lauren.
Despite having most of the running and most of the chances but for a fantastic reaction save from David James to deny Bernardo Corradi's header City would have found themselves level on half time.
The incident involving Barton had incensed Harry Redknapp so much that he went into the referees changing room at half time and after a rant of foul and abusive language he was banished to the stands for the second half.
With Mendes missing in the midfield having pulled all the strings in the first half we were finding it harder to boss this area as City improved then just after the hour a sloppy clearance from Djimi Traore went straight to Vassell in the midfield who delivered and inch perfect cross to Corradi, who maybe without much challenge from Noe Pamarot guided the ball past James.
The Fratton crowd reacted as they always did and but for a double save from Isaksson to deny first LuaLua and then Cole we would have been ahead again, but City themselves then had a good chance to take the lead. A good move eventually ended with Michael Ball, a reported transfer window target for Pompey to drive wide from 20-yards.
Twenty minutes to play and with nerves jangling a little with the importance of the game Redknapp made the attacking move to bring on Niko Kranjcar and Kanu in place of Traore and Cole.
Glen Johnson, who had a fine game went on a marauding run down the right and curled a shot from the edge of the area that narrowly missed the top corner, was it going to be one of those days? The answer no!
Another good Johnson run saw him cleverly pick out Kanu who looked to have been too heavy with his touch as it got away from him but with the goalkeeper and defenders converging upon him he stretched out one of his big boots and poked home to give Pompey a priceless three points.
What a massive three points this is, we were looking fairly comfortable until some sloppy defending from Djimi Traore allowed City the ball in midfield, not the best of defending from Noe Pamarot either to allow Corradi in so easily but he moved well to get in but we dug in a found that second goal we so desperately needed.
Almost a year ago Pedro Mendes inspired us to a crucial victory over City; in the 44 minutes he played today he was doing the same. As an after event Barton should be punished for his disgraceful challenge on Mendes but knowing the FA they'll do nothing.
If this victory has half the impact it did last season you better be dusting off your passports again with many of you having put them away recently! My belief that Europe could still be attained has never wavered, had we lost today I would have been close to conceding but as it is it has grown ever stronger. Every team has a bad patch and we've had ours.
We have a week off now to rest and recuperate due to the FA Cup next weekend but then we travel to Blackburn for another crunch match, another must win.
PLAY UP POMPEY!
Pompey 2 - Pedro Mendes 5, Kanu 81
Man City 1 - Bernardo Corradi 62
Djimi Traore (Niko Kranjcar 71)
Pedro Mendes (Lauren 44)
Andrew Cole (Kanu 71)
Substitutes Not Used