Portsmouth 2 - 0 Aston Villa
By Charlene Cole
Monday 17 Mar 2008 11:33:21
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A goal from ex Spurs striker Jermain Defoe and an own goal by Nigel Reo-Roker sealed Villa’s fate in an afternoon to forget that saw Portsmouth move ahead of them in the Premiership table. 

The two goals which came in the first half of the match secured all three points for Harry Redknapp's boys.

The opener chipped in by Defoe in the 11th minute came after Scott Carson raced from his line to intercept the forward instead of letting the defence deal with the striker. Defoe did well to control Glen Johnson’s long ball and beat Carson from the edge of the box. 

Carson who on a day of errors seemed to take David James’s ‘Calamity’ title, as he was at fault with the next goal. The keeper’s clearance ended up in the back of his net after rebounding off defender Reo-Coker leaving Villa trailing by two goals, as England manager Fabio Capello and goalkeeping coach Ray Clemence watched the head-to-head.  

In the midst of the action Pompey’s Sulley Muntari was sent off with a second yellow card nine minutes from full time to be followed by departing Swedish international Olof Mellberg minutes later. 

Villa tested the Portsmouth defence early in the game when Shaun Maloney fired a low shot from the left only to have his effort end up in the grasp of James.

Only minutes later when replacement centre-back Hermann Hreidarsson was caught off guard by a long ball which slipped behind him saw James race from his post to block the threat of Gabriel Agbonlahor. 

Ex Villain Milan Baros seemed to be somewhat of a livewire as he got the better of Wilfred Bouma to earn a free kick just outside the box which was cleared. It was soon after this that the home side opened the scoring. 

Later as Villa fought back James was only too alert turning the ball away from the corner post as John Carew rose to head an Ashley Young free kick and nearly found the late run of an unmarked Agbonlahor. James however caught the resulting corner kick clearing it to the halfway line and helped along by Baros as the Czech got the best of the Villa defence and brought a save out of Carson in the 18th minute. 

As Villa continued to retaliate winning a few corners Pompey’s Papa Bouba Diop received treatment after heading away Gareth Barry’s inswinger.

Shortly after Villa were sunken by a second goal. The first half remained poor for Villa as shots by Young and Carew finished off target before half time. 

Five minutes into the second half a pass from Barry put Maloney on the left to steer a low cross past James’s reach but goal shy Agbonlahor shot wide of the open goal from five yards.

Marlon Harewood substitute for Maloney spurned a chance set up by Barry as he shot wide of the mark at close range. Following on James executed a save that deflected a curling free kick from Young.

In the 69th minute Niko Kranjcar looked set to bad a third goal, luckily for Villa he shot wide.

Muntari was given his marching orders after a succession of two yellow cards following a foul on Reo-Coker in the first half preceded by a challenge on sub Moustapha Salifou. He was shortly followed by Mellberg who tripped Defoe and earlier grabbed Kranjcar by the neck leaving both sides with ten men remaining. 

Pompey boss Harry Redknapp told Sky Sports News: “It was a great finish by Defoe, terrific skill, and that's three big victories this week. We've gone above Villa into sixth place now but Everton are the team to catch for fifth and we'll keep trying.”  

Redknapp added: 'It has been a terrific week for us and we did well again because Villa set us a lot of problems, particularly from set-pieces. They are such a big side that it was bound to be that way but without Sol Campbell I thought we defended really well in the end.”

Post match Villa chief Martin O’Neill managed to joke: “If this is what happens when Fabio Capello comes to watch then I must think about asking him not to.'

He admitted: “It has been a poor couple of days for us in terms of results but I felt we were capable of winning today - even when we were 2-0 down at half time. Luck deserted us but it's all about winning games and we've got to get back to that. We had a lot of possession and created a number of chances. Gabby is disappointed with his miss but we missed others as well.”

He added: “…but we won't give up. There are still eight games to go and if we are capable of winning most of them that is what we must try to do. There are plenty of twists and turns left even though the margin for error is growing less.'

O'Neill insisted: 'Portsmouth's second goal was a fluke. If the ball hits Nigel anywhere else than where it did it goes out for a corner or a throw-in.'

Speaking of Carson and James he said: “David James is an exceptional talent and has matured into his job. The possibility of making mistakes does not faze him and I hope that's also the case with Scott. I've got Scott on loan for a year from Liverpool and so far I've been very pleased with him.”



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