Black Cats mauled by Pompey
By Alex Dunn. Last Updated: 29/10/05 4:53pm
Sunderland found themselves blitzed in the second half at The Stadium of Light as Portsmouth came from behind to come away from the North East with a glorious 4-1 victory.
Dean Whitehead had given Sunderland a lead in only the third minute but Portsmouth were transformed after the break as goals from Zvonimir Vukic, Dario Silva and a double from Matthew Taylor ensured a miserable afternoon for Mick McCarthy.
In times of trouble on the South Coast an under-fire Alain Perrin will have called for unity, only for Laurent Robert to show characteristic good grace on being dropped to the bench by storming out of the ground.
The talented but temperamental Frenchman would later return, if only to the stands, as Portsmouth lacked anything resembling creativity in a first period full of boisterous tackling but precious little quality.
Sensing a lack of confidence in their visitors, Sunderland were direct from the kick-off and within three minutes found themselves in the lead.
A raid from the positive Andy Welsh took him down the left channel and after his cross ended being headed towards goal by Andy Gray, the ball spun in the air only for Brian Priske to handle inexplicably.
Whitehead, who was omnipresent in the first half but later faded, stepped up and dispatched the penalty with ease past Jamie Ashdown in Portsmouth's goal.
Thereafter and chances were at a premium as Gary O'Neil forced Kelvin Davis in to a save at his near post but in truth, Perrin looked a worried coach on the touchline as his side were on the periphery for long periods.
Perrin has been accused of being unable to rally his troops but whatever that was said at half time saw his side rejuvenated from something that resembled a pub team to one that destroyed a woeful Sunderland.
Within three minutes of the restart and Portsmouth were level. Gregory Vignal's delivery from deep on the left was flicked in to the path of Vukic via Taylor and from a tight angle, the big Serbian fired across goal sweetly and beyond Davis.
Vukic's goal may prove a pivotal moment for both sides this season, as Portsmouth instantly grew in stature thereafter and Sunderland shrunk.
The career of Alan Stubbs has for the large part been distinguished but this was an afternoon best forgotten, as on 57 minutes a long punt in to Sunderland's box saw the big defender head the ball in to the air, unchallenged, before Davis charged out - the ball was spilled - and an advanced Taylor was allowed to stab home from close range.
If his first goal of the season was an altogether ugly affair, his second was simply glorious and the type of once in a career moment that will be remembered long in Portsmouth folklore.
A hopeful flick from Vukic fell to Taylor and from a full 40 yards he unleashed a half volley that flew over the head of Davis - who was then mercilessly booed by his own supporters - at least those who had not left the ground.
Taylor's strike came on 67 minutes and within seven minutes the woes of Sunderland and McCarthy were compounded, as Taylor's superb delivery from the left flank found Silva - who having sneaked in at the back post registered with a timely diving header.
For Sunderland it is back to the drawing board but for Portsmouth, there is a ray of light at the end of what has been at times a very dark and miserable tunnel.
Sunderland v Portsmouth player ratings
|2||Shots on target ( Inc Goals )||5|
|3||Shots off Target (inc woodwork)||0|
|11||Total Fouls Conceded||12|
Barclays Premier League
|9||West Ham United||27||39|
|13||West Bromwich Albion||27||30|
|17||Queens Park Rangers||26||22|