Date:Saturday December 8 2007
Sat 08-12-07, 12.45pm
Pompey travelled to Villa Park looking for a 6th straight - yep 6th straight! - away premier league win... and we got it 3-1.
The continued absence of Sean Davis through injury meant he missed out again so Pedro Mendes again filled in as Pompey were unchanged from last weeks draw with Everton, keeper Asmir Begovic was named on the subs bench though.
An early Craig Gardner own goal and a stunning Sulley Muntari goal in the 1st half was added to another scorcher from Muntari in the 2nd half, before a Gareth Barry penalty - but we did enough to win again on the road!
Villa started brightly enough but it was Pompey that took the early lead. Wilfred Bouma horribly sliced his clearance which fell kindly for Benjani, who took a touch and was about to pull the trigger when Craig Gardner stole the glory to tuck away, unfortunately for us this was into his own net…
Pompey were ahead but Villa had chances, firstly Gabriel Agbonlahor headed over and then came two spurned chances from Martin Laursen, which probably cost Villa. Firstly his headed was saved by David James then a free header, a header which he will not need me to tell him that he should have scored from was headed wide.
James made another fantastic save from Agbonlahor when his shot from the angle took a slight deflection and he stick out a leg to turn it away.
One minute there were appeals for a Villa penalty, the next Pompey were 2-0 up. A quick break eventually resulted in Sulley Muntari picking up the ball on the edge of the area and he curled into the corner giving Scott Carson no chance.
On the stroke of half time James was again at his very best, sticking out a strong hand to deny Agbonlahor when he was clean through.
Villa came out again pushing in the 2nd half but no real end product was to be had and then Muntari made it 3-0. Carson did not really clear very well but Nigel Reo-Coker dwelt on the ball in midfield and Muntari robbed him, he nutmeged Zat Knight then fired home from 30-yards, again giving Carson no chance.
The more Villa pushed on the more the gaps were left at the back and Pompey looked to exploit this.
Harry Redknapp's first change of the afternoon came shortly after the hour when Kanu came on for John Utaka, who once again it must be said had a very quiet day - maybe he is just not getting the ball enough?
Villa did keep pushing and finally their efforts were rewarded when Sylvain Distin gave away an unneeded penalty when he brought down Ashley Young. Villa captain Gareth Barry stepped up and rarely misses - he did not again today.
Further chances came to Patrik Berger but he shot over then Olof Mellberg sent a fine effort just wide, but I do think James had it covered.
Again Villa pushing on left gaps and Pompey kept exploiting this and one such break should have resulted in what would have been an excellent goal. A move involving Pedro Mendes, Papa Bouba Diop, Niko Kranjcar and Kanu eventually saw Mendes square to Bouba Diop he missed from around 4 yards with the goal at his mercy… I still do not quite know how he put it wide?
Matty Taylor got on for Kranjcar with a couple of minutes to go and Villa were only denied a second at the end when Agbonlahor beat James but not the frame of the goal, as it came back off the bar.
We went to Villa Park to do a job and we did this very well and on balance did deserve to win with Sulley Muntari's stunning goals being goals that were good enough to win any game!
Villa huffed and puffed but the end product was often lacking, whereas Pompey's was not.
It was cold, wet and I had to watch sat with the Villa fans - but the hospitality shown by my host was top class - but it was a cracking day and another 3 valuable points, and vitally 3 points against a team that could rival us for a European place come May?
Everyone played there part Glen Johnson was fantastic again, defensively he is getting better and better, as he again proved today keeping Ashley Young very quiet. David James made some fantastic saves again to show why he should be the England no.1.
PLAY UP POMPEY!
Villa 1 - Gareth Barry 72
Pompey 3 - Craig Gardner 10 o.g, Sulley Muntari 40, 61
John Utaka (Kanu 64)
Niko Kranjcar (Matty Taylor 88)
Papa Bouba Diop
Substitutes Not Used
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Date:Saturday December 8 2007
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