Tuncay sinks sorry Pompey
Turkish star on target again for Boro
By Graeme Bailey. Last Updated: 29/12/07 9:12pm
Turkish star Tuncay Sanli was once again the hero for Middlesbrough as he scored the only goal of the game in a 1-0 win at Portsmouth.
The result meant yet more home misery for Pompey boss Harry Redknapp - whose side have now gone over nine hours without scoring in front of their own fans.
Boro were coming off the back of a 3-0 thumping at Birmingham, but they managed to recapture the form that saw them beat Arsenal and Derby earlier this month.
The only goal arrived on 20 minutes and it was a great piece of football as Stewart Downing curled a ball in from the right to find an unmarked Gary O'Neil - his shot was parried by David James but only as far as Tuncay who finished from just a yard out.
Boro - who arguably had their strongest defence starting for the first time this season as Robert Huth came in - held on with relative ease as Mark Schwarzer was rarely tested by a misfiring Pompey attack.
Tuncay was the first to show some purpose in a scruffy start to a frenetic encounter, shooting wide on the turn with James confidently looking on.
John Utaka's mazy run on the right eventually took him into the Boro area and, although he was challenged as he attempted to shoot, the ball ran loose for Niko Kranjcar to fire a low drive which Mark Schwarzer smartly held.
Neither side showed much creativity in the opening 20 minutes. Kranjcar had a goalbound free-kick blocked by an efficient Boro wall after Mohamed Shawky manhandled Kanu off the ball and Downing's set-piece was also blocked after a clumsy foul by Papa Bouba Diop on Tuncay.
But then Boro collected the lead as Pompey dithered at the back. Tuncay started the move, seizing on the loose ball after Sol Campbell and Lee Dong-Guk contested Luke Young's long punt forward.
He switched it right, from where Downing's cross sailed beyond the far post and O'Neil volleyed what looked like a shot of little power. James should have dealt with it but fumbled and Tuncay followed up to knock into an empty net.
Strike partner Lee would have added another soon afterwards but for Hermann Hreidarsson's intervention but Pompey's reprisals were all stoutly resisted.
The introduction of substitutes Matt Taylor and David Nugent gave Pompey an edge at last but when Richard Hughes made a rare attacking move from midfield and knocked down Taylor's free-kick in the 65th minute, Kanu shot against the post from six yards.
Pompey seemed destined not to score after that. Defeat was their first by Boro since 1994 and they have now gone 540 minutes without scoring at home.
|0||1st Half Goals||1|
|1||Shots on Target||4|
|8||Shots off Target||8|
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|10||West Ham United||28||31|
|17||West Bromwich Albion||27||25|