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Last Updated: Sunday, 2 March 2008, 17:55 GMT
Everton 3-1 Portsmouth
By Ian Hughes

Ayegbeni Yakubu
Yakubu gave Everton the lead in lightning-fast time
A brace from Yakubu helped Everton maintain their push for a Champions League spot with a win over Portsmouth.

Inside the first minute, Yakubu headed Everton in front when Pompey failed to clear Steven Pienaar's free-kick.

The hosts then dominated with some sharp passing, but were stunned when Jermain Defoe got the faintest touch to a Glen Johnson cross to restore parity.

After the break, Tim Cahill headed in from Pienaar's cross before Yakubu lashed in a drive to seal the win.

And after Everton's dominance in the first half, the result was deserved - especially as they were forced to break down an improved Pompey side after the interval.

The hosts made a dream start to the match when they went ahead in the blink of an eye, as Yakubu looped in a header after Joseph Yobo flicked on Pienaar's free-kick.

Thereafter, Everton were not short of artistry and some of their passing was superb, with incisive exchanges in the midfield creating openings for Cahill and Leon Osman.


But for all their territorial advantage and excellent possession Everton could not create a clear opening against a Pompey side who appeared determined not to cross the half-way line.

And, as is so often the case, they were made to pay when Johnson delivered a teasing cross from the right and Defoe stretched out a leg to score against Everton for the fist time in his career.

It was just about the visitors' only effort on goal in the first half, but it took them into the break on equal terms, which had looked so unlikely after their poor start.

The game began more evenly after the break, and Everton found themselves unable to dominate as they had previously done.

Perhaps sensing that Everton were lacking a cutting edge, manager David Moyes brought on striker Andrew Johnson, who had been on the bench because of illness.

His introduction transformed the match, as Everton began to pull their opponents this way and that - and soon they exploited the space with a brilliantly-worked goal.

Yakubu held the ball up on the left wing before releasing to Pienaar, whose pin-point centre was headed in powerfully by the on-rushing Cahill.

Soon after David James almost made matters worse when he rushed out of his area to clear and missed the ball, rescuing himself when he produced a diving header to intercept the cross.

However, the Pompey keeper was powerless to prevent a third Everton goal when Yakubu beat Sol Campbell and smashed a thunderous shot into the top corner.

  • Everton boss David Moyes:
    "It is an outstanding result for us. We got off to a fantastic start but then wasted some chances.

    "I thought Andrew Johnson made the difference when he came on.

    "Pompey started the second half much better and we weren't hurting them so we needed to make the change. Andrew coming on worked for us today."

  • Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp:
    "At half-time I thought we could go on and get the three points.

    "We tried to be positive and, if anything, we pushed forward too much and got caught on the counter-attack.

    "We left ourselves a little bit too exposed. I didn't see it as a 3-1. For an hour or so we were right in the game and I couldn't see us losing it."

    Everton: Howard, Hibbert (Johnson 66), Yobo, Jagielka, Lescott, Osman, Neville, Carsley, Pienaar (Baines 90), Cahill, Yakubu (Anichebe 83).
    Subs Not Used: Wessels, Vaughan.

    Booked: Pienaar.

    Goals: Yakubu 1, Cahill 73, Yakubu 81.

    Portsmouth: James, Johnson, Campbell, Distin, Hreidarsson, Muntari, Diop (Utaka 78), Diarra, Kranjcar, Defoe, Kanu.
    Subs Not Used: Ashdown, Lauren, Baros, Davis.

    Booked: Distin.

    Goals: Defoe 38.

    Att: 33,938

    Ref: Andre Marriner (W Midlands).

    BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Everton's Yakubu 7.89 (on 90 minutes).

    Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.

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