Pompey lose Eastlands cracker
Manchester City claim 3-1 success over Portsmouth
By James Dall. Last Updated: 20/04/08 10:39pm
Petrov: Struck City's second
Manchester City secured a 3-1 triumph over 10-man Portsmouth in a frantic encounter at Eastlands.
The home side made a dream start after indecision from goalkeeper David James saw Darius Vassell fire into an empty net on 11 minutes, before Martin Petrov doubled their lead as his toe-poked effort deflected off Sol Campbell to leave James flat-footed.
Pompey battled though, and reduced the deficit on 24 minutes with John Utaka flicking home from close range.
But Harry Redknapp's men were dealt a body blow prior to the break as referee Andre Marriner sent off Hermann Hreidarsson after the defender hauled down Vassell.
The visitors improved in the second period, and almost drew level after twice striking the woodwork in a matter of seconds, but the impressive Benjani sealed the points with 16 minutes remaining as he powered past James.
Papa Bouba Diop was first to test Joe Hart as he struck a stinging effort from 35-yards.
City had hardly threatened when they went ahead through Vassell, his sixth goal of the season, after a horrible misunderstanding between Campbell and James.
Benjani nipped in to rob the Pompey goalkeeper and with James stranded, he played in Stephen Ireland - who looked to have missed an open target only for Vassell to slide in at the far post and make amends.
Barely two minutes later, James was picking the ball out of the back of the net again. Elano, playing out of position at right-back, found Petrov lurking on the left and he did well to lose Lauren before his stabbed shot took a deflection off the inside of Campbell's thigh to leave James wrong-footed.
It was soon 2-1 though. City's makeshift defence was found lacking when Utaka stole in for the finishing touch after Jermain Defoe had headed on Sulley Muntari's cross.
Given renewed hope, Pompey continued to attack but in doing so opened up the games and it was City who came closer to scoring again before the break.
Firstly, James had to be fast out this time to smother at the feet of Vassell, then the England goalkeeper pulled off a good diving stop to deny Benjani.
Five minutes before the break, referee Andre Marriner incurred the visitors' wrath by sending off Hreidarsson.
The defender tangled with Vassell as the City striker chased a long pass. Hreidarsson was undeniably the last defender but it looked as though the ball would have run through to James anyway.
In first-half stoppage time Vassell nearly added insult to injury with a high curling effort from deep on the right that was only matched in brilliance by James' clawing save.
Petrov's blistering pace down the left continued to prove a problem for Portsmouth in the second half, and the Bulgarian laid on a chance for Benjani but he failed to make proper contact.
Defoe went down under Richard Dunne's challenge in the box but Marriner did not even pause to consider a penalty - television replays showed however the England striker was perhaps hard done by.
Benjani fired over after great skill on the turn gave him a chance he really should have taken then immediately at the other end Portsmouth were denied by first one post and then the other.
Muntari hit the right-hand upright after dribbling past Elano and the ball rebounded to Utaka who shot first-time against the foot of the left-hand post.
Finally City ended it. Picking up Ireland's pass, Benjani's balance and strength took him past Distin and he placed the ball inside James' near-post with a minimum of fuss before the most muted of celebrations against his former side.
Hart kept it at 3-1 with a point-blank save to keep out Milan Baros, then another good dive to deny Sean Davis, and give Eriksson the satisfaction of a good scoreline.
|Manchester City||Team Statistics||Portsmouth|
|2||1st Half Goals||1|
|6||Shots on Target||5|
|8||Shots off Target||7|
Barclays Premier League
|9||West Ham United||32||43|
|14||West Bromwich Albion||32||33|
|18||Queens Park Rangers||33||26|