Blackburn 0-1 Pompey
Sun 23-09-07, 3pm
Pompey went in without an away win in 9 months against a very strong Blackburn side - unbeaten in the league - who were themselves looking to recover from their midweek uefa cup defeat, would something give?
Only the one change was made to the Pompey side from the Liverpool match, with Harry Redknapp unsurprisingly opting for the 'lone striker' route, leaving out Benjani - who dropped from the bench - the man who came in was Niko Kranjcar.
After such a long wait for this away win, a 1st half goal from Kanu gave us the 3 points after a 1-0 win, which could have been better as we kept a good side quiet, reducing their clear cut chances to a minimum.
The opening 5 minutes saw Blackburn dominate Pompey, with the woodwork saving us as Roque Santa Cruz headed a cross from David Bentley against the post.
Another chance came Blackburn's way with less than 10 minutes on the clock Morten Gamst Pedersen brought the ball down and put the ball across the area but somehow Benni McCarthy shot wide from just 10-yards.
Kanu then had Pompey's first effort, but this caused no problems to Brad Friedel at all, then immediately Santa Cruz - who was causing Pompey problems with his pace - beat Hermann Hreidarsson before passing to Bentley who shot over.
Pompey should have scored, not once but twice in a matter if seconds. A good move saw John Utaka deliver to Kanu who saw his header saved by Friedel, with his follow up again Kanu was denied by brilliance from the Blackburn keeper - Pompey had to settle for a corner.
Very soon after, it was a case of 3rd time lucky for Kanu. A Papa Bouba Diop pass found him and he beat Stephen Warnock before rounding Friedel to score from a tight angle, beating Christopher Samba - who was covering on the line - to make it 1-0 to Pompey.
Pompey retained the pressure for a good few minutes after the goal, with some nice football was being played - by both sides - with Blackburn playing their part but no real danger being put on the Pompey defence, until Bentley went on a fine solo run as half time approached, only to be denied by a brilliant saving challenge by Sean Davis, who not only made the tackle on the edge of the area, but came away with it too.
Pompey made no changes at half time, as Blackburn came out very hungry in the opening minutes of the half, putting a lot of pressure on the Pompey defence, but Bouba Diop and Sylvain Distin - several times - cleared the danger. Then suddenly, out of nowhere a mix up between Samba and Friedel almost gifted Pompey a goal. If nothing else though it broke the pressure that was growing
A chance for Pompey came and went as Davis got in with a good run, but instead of taking it on himself and having a shot, he decided to square the ball back but this pass was unable to find anyone, with numbers arriving for Pompey lacking.
Pompey went on another quick break involving Sulley Muntari, who picked out Utaka but nothing could come of it as Samba could clear, much to the obvious anger of Kanu, who felt Muntari should have picked him out.
Harry Redknapp made his first change with 68 minutes played. Kanu came off with Benjani coming on, with it hoped that his extra pace and power could help see Pompey through, but soon after Blackburn really should have been level. Samba had a free header but he put this effort wide, with Utaka then leading a break, giving Warnock a tough time but he could not get his shot on target.
The match should have been wrapped up after Benjani did very well to get onto a ball through, he showed his pace and power he crossed into Bouba Diop but from close range he put wide, when he should have scored. Almost immediately we were nearly made to play as David James had to save from Santa Cruz, to make his first real save of the match, but even this was not that difficult in all honesty.
Blackburn really started to put on some pressure as the match moved into the final 10 minutes, with former Pompey loanee Jason Roberts becoming another striker thrown on to test us, with him sending an effort over having out muscled Glen Johnson.
Just after Bentley put sent a long range free kick wide, watched all the way by James with 5 minutes to play Redknapp made another change, Matty Taylor came on for Niko Kranjcar. Right away Taylor got in behind the Blackburn defence but he was denied by an instant goal by a brilliant save from Friedel.
With the match well into the 4 minutes of injury time the final Pompey change was made as Noe Pamarot came on for Utaka, it made little difference and we saw it through.
After 9 months we have finally done it!
Today most would have settled for a point - as we had said - during the week, but 3 points was deserved today after a fine, well organised performance against a very good Blackburn side that we restricted well. The tactics were spot on today, with the players all putting in a very good shift. Although he might not have been the best player Niko Kranjcar put in a great performance, showing that his game has developed, with him willing to sacrifice his offensive duties with his defensive ones.
We had enough chances and should have scored more goals really, but credit cannot be taken away from Blackburn keeper Brad Friedel who made some fantastic saves to keep us at bay.
It is now crucial that we build on this and follow this up with a win over Reading next week - the league cup tie before - and other matches that follow, which I fully believe that we can and will - 13 points out of 18 is what we wanted, 18 out of 18 anyone...
PLAY UP POMPEY!
Pompey 1 - Kanu 23
John Utaka (Noe Pamarot 90)
Papa Bouba Diop
Niko Kranjcar (Matty Taylor 85)
Kanu (Benjani 78)
Substitutes Not Used
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