Berbatov earns Spurs win
Bulgarian striker earns Spurs first away win
By Peter Fraser. Last Updated: December 15, 2007 6:23pm
Berbatov: Match winner
A late Dimitar Berbaov goal gave Tottenham a significant 1-0 win over Portsmouth at Fratton Park.
Berbatov had not scored in his previous eight Premier League games, but he latched onto an 81st minute Aaron Lennon cross to fire Tottenham to three points on the South Coast.
Spurs had not won away in the league this season and Pompey have not scored at home since the 7-4 humbling of Reading in September and the statistics showed in a sloppy first half.
Kevin-Prince Boateng thought he had fired Tottenham into the lead when he pounced upon a rebounded Berbatov effort, but he was offside from the Bulgarian's original shot.
After the interval Pompey goalkeeper David James produced a finger tip save to prevent a Lennon cross reaching Darren Bent for a simple header as both sides continued to struggle to create.
Berbatov, though, then pounced with 10 minutes remaining and Pompey had no answered and it was Spurs that could have added a second as substitute Jermain Defoe rattled a post.
This was Pompey's first home league defeat since March and the end of their 11-match unbeaten run as they failed to take the opportunity to climb into the top four with a lack of punch in front of goal.
Pompey were without Kanu who had returned home to attend his father's funeral and they looked short of fire-power even against a patched-up Tottenham defence in which Didier Zokora filled in at centre back for Michael Dawson.
Errors at the back by Younes Kaboul and Jermaine Jenas encouraged Portsmouth but the home side were also sloppy in defence when Tottenham forced a corner and Berbatov was left with a free header which he could not direct on target.
It took Niko Kranjcar and Noe Pamarot to stop a marauding run by Berbatov down the right after Spurs were beginning to look dangerous.
When Steed Malbranque concluded a sharp passing move with an inviting pass for Darren Bent - again preferred in the starting line-up to Jermain Defoe - he curled his 20 yards shot just over.
Kaboul did well to clear up when Muntari sparked a useful Pompey raid on the right and within seconds Aaron Lennon was away providing a cross to Berbatov whose clear shot produced an instinctive parry by James.
Boateng followed up to net the loose ball but was clearly offside.
Pompey were lucky to escape but just minutes later Johnson's curving cross from the right needed only a touch by Kranjcar to score a goal - but the ball flew straight through to nestle in Robinson's arms.
And when Muntari's purposeful run set up a shot for Diop a crucial deflection off a defender carried it just over the Spurs crossbar.
Pompey piled on the pressure and Robinson was grateful to grab a free kick from Muntari which fizzed straight through the wall.
Bent and Berbatov - still without the suspended Robbie Keane - were guilty of over-elaborating up front for Spurs.
But Spurs did enough to prompt Pompey boss Harry Redknapp to make a significant change for the second half, sending on Sean Davis for the already-booked Pedro Mendes and switching from 4-5-1 to 4-4-2.
Lennon's lightning pace on the right, allied to a splendid cross, gave Bent a glimpse early in the second half but James was off his line to palm the ball away.
And Pompey even gave rarely-employed David Nugent a run but his best effort was a header over the bar from a corner and a clatter on Robinson which earned a rebuke from referee Martin Atkinson.
Berbatov might have won it for Spurs in the 69th minute when, after being slipped in from the left, he went past the advancing James but could not control his second touch.
However, he made no mistake nine minutes from the end as Lennon's pace and vision provided a perfect ball clipped over Sol Campbell's head for the Bulgarian to stroke home unopposed at the far post.
Pompey battled manfully to pull it back but sub Defoe almost made it two with a shot against the outside of a post.
|Portsmouth||Team Statistics||Tottenham Hotspur|
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|3||Shots on Target||3|
|5||Shots off Target||7|
Barclays Premier League
Barclays Premier League
|19||West Bromwich Albion||0||0|
|20||West Ham United||0||0|