Benjani on target again
Pompey climb to fifth as Fulham struggle
By Rob Parrish. Last Updated: 07/10/07 6:43pm
Benjani: Pompey opener
Goals from Benjani Mwaruwari and Hermann Hreidarsson helped Portsmouth climb to fifth with a 2-0 victory over Fulham.
Having smashed seven past shell-shocked Reading the previous weekend, Harry Redknapp's side settled for just the two in an entertaining encounter at Craven Cottage.
Benjani, who grabbed a hat-trick against the Royals, opened the scoring in the 50th minute when he collected Sean Davis' pass, rolled away from Carlos Bocanegra and fired beyond Kasey Keller with the aid of a deflection.
And moments later defender Hreidarsson made it 2-0 when he was released into the area by Niko Kranjcar's deft pass and he lifted the ball over Keller, with Chris Baird's touch taking the ball away from the goalkeeper.
After a slow start, Fulham gradually took a grip and allowed their visitors few openings in a frantic first half.
American Clint Dempsey lead the home front-line with strength and drive and just missed with a glorious header from a Chris Baird cross.
David James had to make a brilliant save within three minutes when Dempsey let fly from nearly 30 yards, the England goalkeeper diving full length to tip the ball away for a corner.
Fulham could not capitalise on the set piece but when Sylvain Distin found Benjani with a long ball to the other end the striker found nobody had moved fast enough to support him as he sent in a cross from the right.
It was slack defending by Fulham which allowed Sulley Muntari a half-chance at the other end, his shot forcing keeper Kasey Keller to go down and turn the ball away for a corner.
It was a fast and furious opening 10 minutes and a stunning volley from 25 yards out by Baird would have put Fulham in front but for James' alert positioning.
And when Simon Davies' pass put David Healy in acres of space inside the Pompey area, James had to show his athleticism again to keep out the Irishman's cross-shot.
Fulham seemed to be taking a grip towards the end of the first half and a fine cross by Baird just before the half-hour mark saw the dangerous Dempsey leaping to skim a header just wide of James's right-hand post with the keeper looking beaten.
Distin saved Pompey with a great interception to foil Davies when Baird's quick free kick played him in after 39 minutes. Then James saved well again to deny Dempsey.
On the break, John Utaka carved himself a chance, his pace taking him through into the right channel but Fulham's defenders did enough to allow Keller to come out and grab the ball.
But Pompey were indebted to James again on 43 minutes when Healy hit Hameur Bouazza's cross from the left first time and the keeper parried it clear.
Within four minutes of the restart it was Pompey who took the lead through Benjani.
The Zimbabwean slipped neatly onto Sean Davis' pass and took aim from 20 yards, his shot clipping the boot of Carlos Bocanegra to beat Keller for his sixth goal of the season
And Fulham were then hit by a second goal two minutes later.
Left-back Hermann Hreidarsson scored for the second game in a row, overlapping and staying just onside from Niko Kranjcar's through ball to force it past the goalkeeper despite Baird's challenge.
Sanchez threw on all three substitutes - Danny Murphy, Diomansy Kamara and Seol Ki-Hyeon in the 61st minute.
It looked a desperate response but Bouazza soon drew another spectacular save from James who punched over the Algerian's swerving free-kick from the right.
And a superb exchange between Kamara and Dempsey ended with the American drilling his shot just wide on 65 minutes.
Fulham were looking for crumbs of comfort in the closing 15 minutes but Pompey, once ahead, never looked like losing their composure.
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|11||Shots on Target||7|
|4||Shots off Target||5|
Barclays Premier League
Barclays Premier League
|16||West Bromwich Albion||16||15|
|17||West Ham United||16||14|