FA Cup – Kanu scores as Pompey reach final


Portsmouth reached their first post-War FA Cup final when a second-half goal from Kanu earned them a 1-0 win over West Brom at Wembley.

FOOTBALL 2007-2008 FA Cup West Brom - Portsmouth Niko Kranjcar Kanu - 0

The South Coast club will next face either Cardiff or Barnsley, who play in the second semi final on Sunday.

It will be Pompey’s fourth FA Cup final. They won the competition in 1939 and finished beaten finalists in 1929 and 1934, although there will be a sour taste in the mouths of West Brom fans as Milan Baros handled in the box in the build-up to Kanu’s winner.

Harry Redknapp’s men were second best for much of the match, with promotion-chasing West Brom laying down their Premier League credentials with some good passing football. But it lacked a cutting edge.

The Baggies started in excellent fashion, belying their Championship status by dominating possession and bemusing the top-flight side’s defence, with Kevin Phillips in particular moving Sylvain Distin and Sol Campbell inside and out.

As early as the fifth minute Campbell was forced to clear following David James‘s fumble of a Zoltan Gera shot.

Baros – who had a generally poor game except for his involvement in the goal – spurned a great chance to put Pompey ahead before the break but a poor touch took the ball away from him when he was put clean through by Kanu.

Despite West Brom’s territorial advantage they could not create any clear-cut chances. Phillips was impressive but Roman Bednar looked laboured in his movement and touch.

Pompey, meanwhile, looked like a Championship side as they struggled to keep their feet on the ball and looking uneasy at the back.

But they took the lead against the run of play when, 10 minutes after the restart, Baros took a long ball on his chest, although replays showed the Czech Republic striker controlled it with his arm.

The former Liverpool, Aston Villa and Lyon man – starting ahead of the cup-tied Jermain Defoe – drilled low on goal for Dean Kiely to make an excellent one-handed save.

But with the ball still alive, Gera – back defending and clearly thinking it was going in – attempted to clear off the line while Kiely was putting both his hands on it, the ill-advised piece of defending only succeeding in giving Kanu a simple tap-in.

The goal sparked Pompey into action. Baros was given one more great opportunity but was unable to control the ball when trying to round Kiely and his finish was smothered by the Ireland goalkeeper.

Baros’s replacement, David Nugent, was similarly profligate, as he continued to look out of his depth at a high level by wasting three late chances to finish West Brom off.

The Baggies, meanwhile, were still threatening. Robert Koren hit a rasping drive off the crossbar after Carl Hoefkens had found him with a superb cut-back following a driving run down the right, while Miller should have given the unmarked Kim a free shot on goal when put free on the left, instead of trying to play in Phillips at the far post and allowing James to claim.

Recent signing Miller also had a good chance to equalise, though he put wide after Hoefkens again surged forward on the right following another combination with Koren.

But Portsmouth held on for the win that gives them an excellent chance of silverware for the first time in 58 years.

West Brom, meanwhile, return to their Championship campaign, where – before the round of league matches this weekend – they were three points off leaders Bristol City with a game in hand.

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