- Match reports
- Sun 11 Nov 2007, 12:00AM
- Posted by Leon Collins
Micah Richards was back from his twisted knee and replaced Sun Jihai, Corluka moving over to right back. Gelson Fernandes made his first start in the Premier League, the Swiss international midfielder replacing the injured Michael Johnson. Darius Vassell was rewarded for some good substitute performances of late with a starting berth up front in place of Emile Mpenza.
Papa Bouba Diop was absent for Pompey, serving a one match ban, and Pedro Mendes, City’s nemesis here 18 months ago, was on the bench as was David Nugent. Familiar faces in James and Distin also lined up for the hosts.
Remembrance Sunday was marked with a minute’s silence just before kick off.
Early danger for City came after just a minute, Sean Davis curling the ball just over the bar from 20 yards after a corner had been cleared out to him.
Great skill from Ireland on the right touchline gave Richards a shooting opportunity from a long way out that Sol Campbell charged down, the City man looking to be fully recovered from his recent knee injury.
Glen Johnson chanced his arm on 19 minutes, the right back’s effort from 25 yards out bouncing up off the surface and into Hart, who dived down to his right to block.
Gelson Fernandes looked at home in his first Premier League start and he put in a testing cross after 24 minutes that was just cleared ahead of the advancing Ireland.
Johnson went even closer to scoring a minute afterwards, shooting from inside the area with his left, but Joe Hart made a superb save to deflect the ball onto the bar and away from danger.
City’s best move of the first 33 minutes looked to have put Vassell in a threatening position, but the striker was marginally offside as the final pass was put through to him.
Hart got the faintest of touches to deny Kranjcar with seven minutes of the half left, the Pompey midfielder having robbed Corluka on the edge of the box before shooting.
Petrov was the next to try to break the deadlock just ahead of the break, but the after Vassell's cross had found the Bulgarian in space he put his shot straight at David James.
The second half started in pouring rain, and after just a minute Petrov robbed Johnson near the corner but put his cross just too high for Darius Vassell.
The Bulgarian was in the action again on 49 minutes after a telling pass from Ireland found him in space. He crossed from the left but Vassell could not put his sliding effort on target and James collected from what had been City’s best chance of the game so far.
Taylor, on as a substitute, nearly caught City napping at a free kick, his far post header going just a yard wide of Hart’s left post. Pompey, with Kanu replaced by Nugent, were now taking shots from long range as two fine central-defensive partnerships held sway at both ends.
Elano and Petrov had chances with seconds of eachother on 67 minutes, David James denying the Brazilian with his legs before the Bulgarian shot from a tight angle, the former City keeper again exactly where he needed to be.
The woodwork saved City on 72 minutes, David Nugent’s first time shot from 20 yards beating Hart, hitting inside the base of the left post before flying across the face of goal and away into touch. The young keeper parried a Johnson shot a minute later and dived at Benjani’s feet to deny the Portsmouth striker.
City won a rare corner six minutes from time but Richards’ diving header went a long way wide of James’ right post.
Nugent took aim as we entered stoppage time, but his powerful shot was bravely blocked by Micah Richards, and this was the last meaningful action of the game as City and their travelling fans headed north with useful point that put them back in third place.
mcfc.co.uk Man of the Match: Micah Richards - back to his best, shone in the company of three other fine central defenders.