Second-half goals from Dave Kitson and Aaron Mokoena handed Portsmouth a fifth straight victory and plunged Scunthorpe deeper into the relegation mire.
Lee Miller thought he had put Scunthorpe ahead but his header was ruled out for a foul in the build-up.
Kanu nodded an easy chance wide just before half-time but Kitson saved his team-mate's blushes by firing into the bottom corner from 18 yards.
And Mokoena sealed the points with a low finish from 25 yards.
The result sees Pompey leapfrog Watford into 12th while Scunthorpe remain third-from-bottom, four points adrift of safety.
Portsmouth began brightly but the visitors gradually steadied themselves and came close to opening the scoring when Mark Duffy made the space and hit a shot narrowly wide.
Moments later Portsmouth's David Nugent hit a fierce shot straight at Josh Lillis but the pendulum swung back in Scunthorpe's favour and Lee Miller went close following Josh Wright's dangerous cross.
The away side thought they had gone ahead when Miller headed in a cross from Duffy but the effort was disallowed after the Scunthorpe striker was adjudged to have committed a foul in the build-up.
Portsmouth were dealt a blow midway through the first half when Hayden Mullins went off injured, with Mokoena introduced.
Yet the change did not little to quell Scunthorpe's momentum as they continued to probe for a breakthrough.
However, Portsmouth soon signalled their threat when Kitson saw an effort scrambled away, Nugent shot wide and Kanu headed wide from a glorious position.
The hosts began to dominate and Kitson broke the deadlock with a fine right-foot drive.
Duffy tried his luck for Scunthorpe but Portsmouth survived and then killed off the match when Mokoena took a pass from Kanu and fired into the bottom corner with a left-foot shot from distance.
Live text and stats
Tuesday, 1 March 2011
05 De Laet
08 Mullins (Mokoena 22)
17 Cotterill (Ciftci 90)
10 Nugent (Dickinson 84)
16 Wright (Hughes 75)
20 Ibrahim (Garner 76)
Ref: SalisburyAtt: 14,252
Attempts on target
Attempts off target
90:00+4:29 The referee signals the end of the game.
90:00+2:09 Unfair challenge on Nadir Ciftci by Ben Gordon results in a free kick. Jamie Ashdown restarts play with the free kick.
89:09 Substitution David Cotterill goes off and Nadir Ciftci comes on.
86:40 Centre by Ritchie De Laet, David Mirfin makes a clearance.
85:41 Greg Halford fouled by Lee Miller, the ref awards a free kick. Jamie Ashdown takes the direct free kick.
85:06 The assistant referee flags for offside against Nwankwo Kanu. Indirect free kick taken by Josh Lillis.
83:07 David Cotterill delivers the ball, Eddie Nolan gets a block in. Corner taken by David Cotterill, Greg Halford has a headed
effort at goal from close in which goes wide right of the target.
83:07 Substitution (Portsmouth) makes a substitution, with Carl Dickinson coming on for David Nugent.
82:13 Ritchie De Laet produces a cross, David Mirfin makes a clearance.
80:41 Ritchie De Laet concedes a free kick for a foul on Andy Hughes. Direct free kick taken by David Mirfin.
79:30 The assist for the goal came from Nwankwo Kanu.
79:30 GOAL - Aaron Mokoena:Portsmouth 2 - 0 Scunthorpe Aaron Mokoena scores a goal from outside the area to the bottom left corner of the goal. Portsmouth 2-0 Scunthorpe.
77:00 David Nugent takes a shot. Save made by Josh Lillis.
76:44 Ritchie De Laet delivers the ball, David Mirfin manages to make a clearance.
75:16 Substitution (Scunthorpe) makes a substitution, with Joe Garner coming on for Abdisalam Ibrahim.
74:55 Substitution Andy Hughes on for Josh Wright.
74:10 Hermann Hreidarsson takes a shot. Comfortable save by Josh Lillis.
73:28 Unfair challenge on Hermann Hreidarsson by Lee Miller results in a free kick. Free kick taken by Jamie Ashdown.
71:04 David Cotterill concedes a free kick for a foul on Michael Nelson. Josh Lillis restarts play with the free kick.
70:03 Unfair challenge on Ricardo Rocha by Lee Miller results in a free kick. Jamie Ashdown takes the free kick.
69:19 Mark Duffy takes the chance to get an effort at goal. Jonathan Hogg gets a block in.
68:07 Nwankwo Kanu challenges Michael Nelson unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Josh Lillis.
67:09 Unfair challenge on Lee Miller by Hermann Hreidarsson results in a free kick. The free kick is delivered right-footed by Eddie
Nolan from right wing.
65:42 Dave Kitson concedes a free kick for a foul on Michael Raynes. Eddie Nolan takes the direct free kick.
63:32 Free kick awarded for a foul by Dave Kitson on Abdisalam Ibrahim. Josh Lillis takes the direct free kick.
61:50 GOAL - Dave Kitson:Portsmouth 1 - 0 Scunthorpe Goal scored by Dave Kitson from the edge of the area to the bottom right corner of the goal. Portsmouth 1-0 Scunthorpe.
60:21 Jonathan Hogg produces a right-footed shot from the edge of the box and misses to the left of the target.
59:57 The ball is crossed by David Cotterill, clearance by Michael Nelson.
59:43 Centre by David Cotterill, clearance by Michael Nelson.
58:55 Shot from 25 yards from Lee Miller. Blocked by Ricardo Rocha. Unfair challenge on David Nugent by Lee Miller results in a
free kick. Ricardo Rocha restarts play with the free kick.
58:07 A cross is delivered by Hermann Hreidarsson.
56:50 David Cotterill takes the inswinging corner, clearance made by David Mirfin.
54:48 Mark Duffy fouled by Nwankwo Kanu, the ref awards a free kick. Eddie Nolan takes the free kick.
53:57 David Cotterill produces a cross.
52:49 The ball is delivered by Mark Duffy, clearance by Ritchie De Laet. Michael Collins takes a shot. Save made by Jamie Ashdown.
52:06 Ritchie De Laet delivers the ball, Eddie Nolan makes a clearance. David Nugent takes a short corner.
47:22 David Cotterill takes a inswinging corner from the left by-line to the near post, Michael Collins manages to make a clearance.
46:13 The official flags Dave Kitson offside. Josh Lillis takes the indirect free kick.
45:01 The game restarts for the second half.
45:00+1:11 The half-time whistle blows.
45:00+0:18 Centre by David Cotterill.
43:40 The ball is crossed by Ritchie De Laet, Michael Raynes manages to make a clearance. David Cotterill takes the outswinging
corner, Dave Kitson has a headed effort at goal from close in which goes wide right of the target.
42:53 David Cotterill crosses the ball.
42:29 David Mirfin sends in a cross, Ricardo Rocha manages to make a clearance.
41:32 Unfair challenge on Abdisalam Ibrahim by Ritchie De Laet results in a free kick. Mark Duffy crosses the ball from the free
kick right-footed from left channel, Aaron Mokoena makes a clearance.
40:41 Header from close range by Hermann Hreidarsson misses to the right of the goal.
38:41 David Nugent produces a right-footed shot from just outside the penalty box that misses to the left of the target.
36:46 Mark Duffy takes a shot. Jamie Ashdown makes a save.
36:19 Centre by Eddie Nolan, clearance by Ricardo Rocha.
35:03 Effort from inside the area by Michael Collins misses to the left of the target.
34:19 David Nugent takes a shot. Josh Lillis makes a save.
33:11 Michael Raynes fouled by Nwankwo Kanu, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Michael Nelson.
31:10 Jonathan Hogg challenges Abdisalam Ibrahim unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by David Mirfin.
26:37 Ben Gordon crosses the ball, blocked by Ritchie De Laet. Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Mark Duffy played to the
near post, Nwankwo Kanu manages to make a clearance.
24:50 Dave Kitson fouled by Michael Nelson, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Hermann Hreidarsson.
23:37 Shot from inside the area by David Nugent clears the bar.
22:27 Centre by Mark Duffy, Jamie Ashdown makes a comfortable save.
21:21 Substitution Aaron Mokoena on for Hayden Mullins.
18:55 Unfair challenge on Ritchie De Laet by Abdisalam Ibrahim results in a free kick. Greg Halford crosses the ball in from the
17:32 The ball is sent over by Mark Duffy, Greg Halford fouled by Lee Miller, the ref awards a free kick. Jamie Ashdown takes the
16:18 Centre by David Cotterill, Ben Gordon gets a block in. Corner taken right-footed by David Cotterill from the right by-line
to the near post, clearance by Josh Wright.
13:14 Foul by Hermann Hreidarsson on Mark Duffy, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Josh Lillis.
11:20 Nwankwo Kanu gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Josh Wright. Free kick taken by Michael Nelson.
10:20 David Nugent sends in a cross, Jonathan Hogg gets a header at goal, save by Josh Lillis.
9:25 David Nugent has a drilled shot. Save by Josh Lillis. Outswinging corner taken by David Cotterill from the right by-line played
to the near post, clearance by Josh Wright.
8:40 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on David Mirfin by Nwankwo Kanu. Ben Gordon takes the free kick.
7:00 The ball is crossed by Ben Gordon, Jamie Ashdown makes a comfortable save.
3:08 David Cotterill takes a inswinging corner to the near post, clearance made by Josh Wright.
3:00 David Nugent sends in a cross, blocked by Eddie Nolan.
0:00 The game gets underway.
Live text and data provided by The Press Association.
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