Premier League – Pompey put four past plucky Birmingham
Jermain Defoe scored two goals in the first 10 minutes against Birmingham to send Portsmouth on their way to a 4-2 win at Fratton Park.
Birmingham hit back with goals from Frabrice Muamba and Sebastian Larsson, to leave the scores tied at 2-2 at the interval before Hermann Hreidarsson, four minutes after the restart, and Nwankwo Kanu, in the second minute of added time, secured the win for Pompey.
Portsmouth got off to the perfect start as Milan Baros got the better of Liam Ridgewell on the right hand side of the box, before earning his side a penalty when David Murphy was judged to have handled the ball on the back line.
Defoe calmly stepped up to send the ball into the bottom right hand corner of the net after sending Maik Taylor diving to his right and, just three minutes later the had a second as Birmingham were caught napping at the back.
The diminutive former Tottenham striker simply found himself in the right place at the right time as Baros’ shot was deflected by Taylor into his path at the penalty spot after Sulley Muntari had also seen his shot parried.
Blues boss Alex McLeish only had to wait another 60 seconds though before his side made their mark on the match with Birmingham earning themselves a corner from the re-start. Larsson whipped his ball in towards the penalty spot, Ridgewell headed on towards the far post where Fabrice Muamba, having made a great run to appear from no-where, was on hand to deflect the ball into the back of the net.
With three goals in five minutes, it was always unlikely either side would be able to maintain the early pace of the match and as such Portsmouth were forced to wait until the 33rd minute before fashioning another real chance on goal.
Muntari’s free kick, after Gary McSheffrey brought down Baros, was allowed to go untouched and almost curled into the back left-hand corner of the net before Taylor managed to scramble across and turn the ball behind for a corner.
It was Birmingham, however, who went in for half-time with the smiles on their faces as Larsson sent them level with a brilliant free kick, thumped into the top left-hand corner of the net after Mikael Forsell had made the most of Glen Johnson‘s tackle.
Portsmouth came back out for the restart firing on all cyclinders with Hreidarsson putting the hosts back in front tapping home from six yards out. Muntari chipped his free-kick in towards the penalty spot where it came off Ridgewell’s head and into the path of the Icelander who had little difficulty in sending the ball into the back of the net.
Much like the first-half, the match again lost the majority of it’s sparkle after the early excitement and then next real chance on goal fell to Birmingham in the 77th minute.
Larsson produced a great chipped cross for substitute Cameron Jerome, whose header towards the near post almost caught David James napping. But the England keeper was quickly across to his right and managed to tipped the ball around the post.
Portsmouth best chance late in the match came from Muntari, who tried his luck from 25 yards out, after Kanu had laid the ball back to him, and watched as his shot just snuck over the cross bar as a worried Taylor scampered across to cover.
But it was to be Kanu who eventually gave the hosts the breathing space they had been looking for as he produced an acrobatic header in the second minute of extra time to secure the win.
Miguel Pedro Mendes found himself in acres of space on the right wing before picking out Kanu, also in acres of space, towards the far post. The Nigerian then had plenty of time to pick his method of scoring before opting for the diving header that saw his club move up to seventh in the Premier League standings.