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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 April, 2003, 20:40 GMT 21:40 UK
Portsmouth promoted
Portsmouth captain Paul Merson and Burnley defender Steve Davis
Merson missed from the penalty spot
Portsmouth 1-0 Burnley

Portsmouth sealed their promotion to the Premiership with a famous victory over Burnley at Fratton Park.

It seemed that Portsmouth fans would have to wait yet another game to crack open the champagne when captain Paul Merson missed a 12th-minute penalty.

But Svetoslav Todorov struck midway through the second half to end Pompey's 15-year exile from the top flight and send the home fans into raptures.

Portsmouth were forced to endure some nervy moments as Burnley mounted a spirited fightback.

However, the Pompey chimes could soon be heard when the final whistle was blown and Portsmouth's players were mobbed by their jubilant fans.

KEY MOMENTS
12 mins: Merson misses penalty
73 mins: Todorov scores from close range
74 mins: Todorov booked for celebrating

Understandably, Portsmouth, who had seen their promotion celebrations wrecked by a shock defeat to Sheffield Wednesday at the weekend, started tentatively.

They failed to produce the kind of free-flowing football which had characterised the early part of their season.

And when captain Merson struck the bar from the penalty spot after Gianluca Festa had been felled by defender Dean West, the tension among the Pompey fans was almost tangible.

Burnley, for their part, contributed to an open first half and tested the hosts' defence without ever really threatening to score.

Pompey gradually began to exert their authority, and went into the break very much in the ascendancy.

Many of their better moments came from Merson and the lively Todorov, but they could not find a way through a resolute Burnley rearguard.

Just before half time, Lee Bradbury, who had missed a great chance to open the scoring, released Nigel Quashie with a delightful pass.

But the midfielder shot straight at Nikolaos Michopoulos in the Clarets' goal, incurring the wrath of the better-placed Todorov.

HAVE YOUR SAY

It appeared that the goal Portsmouth so craved would never come.

And when Bradbury's shot from inside the six-yard box was parried by Michopoulos and Quashie's headed follow-up was cleared off the line, the omens did not look good.

But Portsmouth were blessed with their own stroke of luck when Burnley should have been awarded a penalty after Ian Moore was bundled over by Festa in the area.

The Clarets' sense of injustice was merely compounded when Portsmouth broke at speed and scored.

Quashie provided the telling pass which found the onrushing Todorov at the far post and the Bulgarian applied the coup de grace.

Todorov was booked for overindulging in his goal celebrations with the Portsmouth fans which, given the magnitude of the occasion, was a little harsh.

Yet that is unlikely to be the only card Portsmouth receive when the messages of congratulations come flooding in to manager Harry Redknapp and assistant Jim Smith.


Portsmouth: Hislop, Primus, Foxe, De Zeeuw, Festa, Stone, Sherwood, Merson, Quashie, Bradbury (Pericard 70), Todorov.
Subs Not Used: Kawaguchi, Harper, O'Neil, Diabate.

Booked: Festa, Todorov.

Burnley: Michopoulos, West, Gnohere (Chaplow 82), Stephen Davis, McGregor, Branch, Papadopoulos (Maylett 8), Blake, Weller, Ian Moore, Taylor, Maylett (O'Neill 53).
Subs Not Used: Armstrong, Pilkington.

Booked: Stephen Davis.

Attendance: 19,221

Referee: B Curson (Leicestershire).




WATCH AND LISTEN
Portsmouth boss Harry Redknapp
"It's a terrific achievement"


Portsmouth's Paul Merson
"The fans have been outstanding"


VOTE RESULTS
Will Pompey survive in the Premiership?
Yes
 42.25% 
No
 57.75% 
17992 Votes Cast
Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion


PORTSMOUTH

BURNLEY

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