Portsmouth 0 – 1 Man City
By Ian Hughes
Adebayor celebrates after scoring his third goal of the season
Emmanuel Adebayor kept up his record of scoring in every league game this season to help Manchester City maintain their 100% start to the season.
The Togo striker rose above the Pompey defence to thump in a header from Gareth Barry’s excellent corner.
Micah Richards had a goal ruled out for offside as City turned the screw.
After the break, John Utaka fizzed a shot narrowly wide, while fellow substitute David Nugent hit his volley straight at City goalkeeper Shay Given.
With wealthy owners at the helm of each club – Pompey’s takeover by Sulaiman Al Fahim going through only on Thursday – it was a fascinating meeting between two sides who represent the new wave of the Premier League.
City, though, are 12 months into their new ownership and further down the road of realising their potential.
As a result, the big name stars they have attracted – and the team’s greater cohesion – proved too strong for a much-changed Portsmouth side.
While it will take a while for Pompey to stabilise after a period of uncertainty – and to bed in new players – City are showing signs that their revolution is gaining momentum.
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Adebayor was once again in excellent form, providing the fulcrum for his side’s attacks, and Joleon Lescott – finally making his league debut for City after a protracted move from Everton – gave an assured performance.
Initially, however, Pompey more than held their own, despite fielding a team with five changes from their last league game.
Tommy Smith and Michael Brown had completed their moves to Fratton Park in time to make their debuts and were immediately drafted into the starting line-up.
And for a time, the hosts were the better side, passing the ball around neatly and went close through a rasping shot from Frederic Piquionne.
Yet there was always the feeling that once City settled, they would pose more of a threat.
That possibility became a reality when Barry swung in a corner from the right and Adebayor nodded home powerfully.
City thought they had doubled their lead when Richards converted a low cross from Craig Bellamy, who started ahead of Robinho, but the goal was ruled out for offside.
After the break, the imposing Adebayor continued to cause Pompey problems and one moment of magic saw him drag the ball between two defenders before forcing a fine save from Asmir Begovic.
And Stephen Ireland lashed a shot over the bar as a Portsmouth struggled to keep their opponents out.
All seemed to be going City’s way but they suffered a blow when Richards limped off injured and watching England boss Fabio Capello will share City’s concern, as he may want to pick the defender for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Slovenia and Croatia.
It signalled a change in fortunes for Pompey and they began to create a few chances – a Hayden Mullins shot was deflected wide and Younes Kaboul headed over.
Utaka went agonisingly close with a fierce drive that flew just past the post and Richard Hughes wasted a great chance when he volleyed wide from 12 yards.
Parity really should have been restored soon after but Nugent hit his shot into the ground and an upright Given saved the ball with his shoulder.
In the end, City did just enough, while Pompey will hope results will pick up when their new signings are eligible and the team starts to gel.
Portsmouth manager Paul Hart:
“It is tough at the moment. But we played very well today.
“We restricted City to only a few chances and we should have nicked a draw at the death.
“We played with spirit and discipline against terrific players and went about our job in a proper way. If we can keep doing that we can turn things around.”
Manchester City boss Mark Hughes:
“We are keeping clean sheets and that always gives you a chance of winning games.
“Fratton Park is a hard place to come and get something but we were always in control of the game. We took the lead and we should really have had a second goal, which we deserved.
“Micah Richards’ goal was chalked out for offside, wrongly in my opinion.
“But we have come out of the blocks and made a statement and three wins out of three league games is great for us.”