Fulham late show stuns Pompey
By Mark Kendall. Last Updated: 03/04/05 3:40pm
Two defensive howlers in the final ten minutes saw Portsmouth crash to a damaging 3-1 defeat at Fulham.
The South Coast outfit had hit the front at Craven Cottage through Tresor Lomana Lua Lua, but conceded three second half goals which further increased their relegation fears.
After Andy Cole had levelled, Arjan De Zeeuw and Linvoy Primus produced glaring individual errors that allowed Brian McBride and Luis Boa Morte to snatch three valuable points for the hosts.
Things had seemed bleak for Fulham as they missed a penalty and showed a distinct lack of quality in the first 45 minutes, but an improved second half display brought a hugely valuable victory which moves them seven points clear of the drop zone.
It was Portsmouth who made the brighter start, although Dejan Stefanovic was shown a yellow card after just four minutes following a cynical trip on Boa Morte - indeed, only the presence of the covering Matthew Taylor saved the defender from an early bath.
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Chances were proving hard to come by, but the better attacking football was coming from the visitors, and only a slightly heavy touch robbed Patrik Berger of the opportunity to open the scoring on 19 minutes.
Three minutes later and it was the excellence of Fulham goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar that denied Pompey - the Dutch custodian produced a superb save to turn a thumping Yakubu Aiyegbeni header over the bar from Steve Stone's inviting cross.
However, there was nothing van der Sar could do when the deadlock was broken shortly after the half hour mark. Yakubu fed strike partner Lua Lua, and the ever-unpredictable front man demonstrated the exhilarating side to his game by dancing past first Zat Knight and then Moritz Volz before planting a wonderfully-curled effort into the corner.
Pompey could have extended their advantage had Taylor got better direction on a free header from a left-wing corner, but were thankful to Stone for his efforts in ensuring Jensen failed to direct a header on target from Boa Morte's cross.
Fulham should, though, have gone in on level terms at the break after being awarded a penalty in first-half injury time when referee Mark Clattenburg decided that Stefanovic's handball from Cole's close-range cross had been intentional.
Steed Malbranque shouldered the responsibility and went low to Jamie Ashdown's left, but the keeper guessed right and pulled off a fine save, and followed it with arguably a better one to deny Boa Morte from the rebound.
Berger went close to handing Pompey a two-goal cushion with the first effort of the second half, but after cutting outside Volz saw his drive from the edge of the box drift just wide of the target.
It proved to be something of a turning point as Fulham finally began to find their feet and came into the game as an attacking force.
Jensen almost restored parity with a free kick from range that skimmed the roof of the net, but it was Cole who did drag his team back on terms.
The former Manchester United hit-man was indebted to Boa Morte who showed strength and pace to force his way past Stone to the by-line before pulling back an inch-perfect ball that Cole fired into roof of the net from 12 yards.
Cole came agonisingly close to a second when he shrugged off the attentions of Giannis Skopeletis to meet Malbranque's free kick from the right, but his effort struck the upright and ran to safety.
The visitors nearly capitalised on their let-off moments later but Yakubu dragged wide of the target from 20 yards after Lua Lua had laid intelligently into his path.
But Pompey were to self-destruct in the final ten minutes with two defensive errors that cost them the game. The first came courtesy of De Zeeuw who got a back-header all wrong and presented substitute McBride with the chance to hook past a stranded Ashdown.
Primus then sealed their fate; as he dallied on the ball 40 yards from goal, the full back was robbed by Boa Morte who rounded Ashdown before showing great composure to trick Stefanovic and slot into the unguarded net.
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|0||1st Half Goals||1|
|5||Shots on Target||2|
|7||Shots off Target||7|
Barclays Premier League
|15||West Bromwich Albion||15||15|
|17||West Ham United||15||13|