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Saturday, 10 August, 2002, 15:55 GMT 16:55 UK
Portsmouth 2-0 N Forest
Portsmouth's Vincent Pericard is congratulated by Nigel Quashie after scoring
Pericard enjoying life on the south coast



Portsmouth had a near-perfect start to the season, coasting to a comfortable victory over Nottingham Forest.

Manager Harry Redknapp has completely restructured the side he inherited from Graham Rix bringing in practically a new team including most notably Paul Merson.

But it was Vincent Pericard - a Frenchman on loan from Juventus for a year - who stole the show at Fratton Park.

Pericard played a major part in Deon Burton's opening goal and also scored Pompey's second goal.

The Portsmouth side was unrecognisable from the one that finished last season in 17th place as Redknapp handed debuts to eight new players.


Two of them did not take long to make their mark. An eighth-minute Pericard shot was too powerful for Darren Ward and Burton thumped the ball home.

Derby striker Burton was only signed on loan on Friday as he returned to Portsmouth for a second spell after leaving Fratton Park for the Rams in 1997.

Within a minute of his goal Redknapp had to juggle his resources, bringing on Linvoy Primus after Eddie Howe limped off with a knee injury.

Paul Merson joined Portsmouth from Aston Villa
Merson was another Portsmouth debutant
But the hosts' defence remained untroubled by a hesitant Forest side.

Paul Hart's side only real effort came from a David Prutton shot which Shaka Hislop dealt with comfortably.

And on the stroke of half-time the 19-year-old Pericard doubled Portsmouth's advantage when he headed home Gary O'Neil's cross.

Merson worked hard and made a bid for glory with a right-footed effort from around 25 yards in the 38th minute, but Ward watched it sail harmlessly over the bar.

Hart introduced Jack Lester and Marlon Harewood at the start of the second half, but Forest were still unable to make any attacking impact.

As for Portsmouth, Burton came closest to adding to the scoreline.

He was denied twice by Ward, firstly when his volley was tipped round the post in the 79th minute.

Then the Forest keeper pulled off a great save at the death from a close-range effort.

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BBC Five Live's David Oates
"A flying start for Portsmouth"

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