1-0 Vassell 11, 2-0 Petrov 13, 3-1 Benjani 74
2-1 Utaka 24
- Match reports
- 10 April 2008 00:00
- Posted by Leon Collins
Pre match news
Sun Jihai is a late withdrawal to the City line-up and in his place Elano will now start as a right back. It's a position not unfamiliar to the Brazilian international who played for most of his career in his home country as a full back.
Other defensive problems mean that 20-year-old Macclesfield-born Sam Williamson comes in for a place on the City bench.
A bit of a mutual love-in ahead of kick-off with David James, Sylvain Distin and Benjani all facing their former clubs, so general appreciation all round – until the first whistle.
With 70 seconds on the clock an ambitious shot from Papa Bouba Diop caught the wind from a long way out which made it harder for Joe Hart to turn behind for the first corner of the game.
The resulting set-piece gave Distin a great chance to score from six-yards out, but he made a mess of his header.
A subdued few minutes followed (apart from the Portsmouth fans with not only the customary bell but now a trumpet!) before the game burst into life with two goals in two minutes.
Sol Campbell and James got mixed up on the left corner of the box and Benjani stole in to take the ball and cleverly set up Stephen Ireland who's cross-cum-shot rolled across the six-yard box for Darius Vassell to gleefully slide in his sixth goal of the season after 11 minutes.
And it wasn't long before the City faithful were cheering again. More Portsmouth defensive indecision allowed a cross from the right to come all the way over to Martin Petrov. The Bulgarian used the element of surprise by both hitting his shot early and using his right foot to great effect as his strike clipped off the unlucky again Campbell and beyond James.
Pompey could have had a swift reply on 16 as Diop rose well to narrowly head over the bar.
But on 24 minutes the visitors were back in the game after the Blues failed to clear from a corner. Diarra’s ball in was headed up into the air and John Utaka was allowed to hook home from close range as the City defence stood and watched.
On 32 City threatened again as Benjani hit a powerful low shot from the edge of the box that needed a strong hand from James to keep the score at 2-1.
Five minutes from half time the game took another twist as Hermann Hreidarsson was given a straight red card. Good play from Benjani again saw him feed Stephen Ireland and an early throughball looked to have set Vassell away - but the Portsmouth defender was doing his best to prevent the forward getting to the ball.
After a brief moment's pause, the referee gave the foul and produced the red card for the Icelandic defender.
In stoppage time Vassell again came close with a left footed curler from the corner of the penalty area that brought the best out of David James. At full stretch James tipped the ball over for a corner.
HALF TIME: City 2-1 Portsmouth
No changes at half time after a lively first half. So it came was no surprise that the second started at a slower pace. Although as we approached 10 minutes into the second half the game sparked back into life.
On 54 minutes Richard Dunne was forced off with seemingly a muscle injury. And in the week when City’s Academy side lifted the FA Youth Cup it was fitting that Sam Williamson became graduate number 26 off the Platt Lane conveyor belt.
Almost immediately City should have made it 3-1 as the very lively Benjani juggled the ball with back to goal before volleying over when he really should have scored.
A minute later Portsmouth were almost level as they conspired to hit both posts. Firstly Muntari fizzed a shot onto Hart’s right hand post before he saw the follow up clip the outside of his left hand post and go out to safety.
To round off a busy five minutes, Darius Vassell had a great chance but could only slam his drive into the side netting when well-placed inside the area.
The game had turned into a feisty affair both on the pitch and in the technical area as Derek Fazakerley and Joe Jordan threatened to square up on more than one occasion.
On the pitch 20-year-old Williamson picked up a booking on his debut too as the tackles flew in and the game was going end-to-end.
Then on 74 minutes Benjani rattled in the goal he had deserved all game after turning just inside the Pompey box and firing into James' bottom right hand corner. Just as he had said prior to this game - no celebration if he scored - and so it proved but everyone else celebrated City going 3-1 up.
With 10 minutes remaining Joe Hart produced a fantastic save to deny the recently introduced Milan Baros as he raced out to block with his chest.
Hart again was needed to repel Portsmouth two minutes from time acrobatically turning over Davis’ powerful drive.
City though saw off any further threat and picked up an impressive three points from a very good Portsmouth side.
FULL TIME: City 3-1 Portsmouth
mcfc.co.uk’s Man of the Match: Benjani. A fine performance and goal against his former employers.