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Page last updated at 21:40 GMT, Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Portsmouth 4-2 Birmingham

By Nabil Hassan

Jermain Defoe
Jermain Defoe celebrates his second goal for Portsmouth

A first-half Jermain Defoe brace and goals from Hermann Hreidarsson and Kanu secured Portsmouth victory in a thrilling encounter at Fratton Park.

Defoe opened the scoring from the spot after David Murphy had handled, and soon after he made it 2-0 - tucking the ball home from close range.

Fabrice Muamba replied by volleying in a corner from Sebastian Larsson, who curled in a superb free-kick to level.

Hreidarsson bundled home for 3-2 before Kanu's late header secured victory.


Pompey manager Harry Redknapp made three changes to the side that beat Manchester United in the FA Cup on Saturday.

He brought back cup-tied Defoe up front and the England striker man made an instant impression for the south coast side.

Defoe gave his side the lead from the spot with only five minutes on the clock after Murphy had handled Milan Baros' cross from the right.

The former Tottenham man made no mistake, sending keeper Maik Taylor the wrong way for 1-0.

And it was not long before Pompey doubled their lead just three minutes later, again through Defoe.

He tucked home from four yards out after Taylor had saved Sulley Muntari's initial shot and Baros followed up the rebound which the Birmingham keeper parried into Defoe's path.

The visitors refused to let their heads drop and got back into the game just a minute later.

Muamba scored it, volleying home from close range after Ridgewell had flicked on Larsson's corner across the six-yard box.

Birmingham's captain Damien Johnson was lucky to escape any action from referee Steve Tanner shortly after, following a dreadful late challenge on midfielder Pedro Mendes.

Taylor was kept busy in the Birmingham goal throughout with saves from Papa Bouba Diop and most notably Muntari.

And Birmingham were thankful for those saves after Larsson levelled the scores with a stunning free-kick.

He curled the ball home past David James from 20 yards out to make it 2-2 at the end of a sensational half of football at Fratton Park.

And while the second half lacked half as many goals, it was just as entertaining.

Sebastian Larsson
Sebastian Larsson had equalised with a free-kick for Birmingham

Hreidarsson gave Portsmouth the lead three minutes after the break bundling home Muntari's inswinging free-kick which Taylor failed to deal with.

Defoe came close to claiming his hat-trick while Baros was also unlucky to have a penalty appeal turned away but it was Birmingham who came closest to scoring next.

First Forssell was denied by the Portsmouth keeper before substitute Cameron Jerome volleyed towards the top corner of the net from close range with James superbly tipping the ball around the post.

Birmingham kept plugging away but Pompey secured victory, catching the visitors on the break as substitute Kanu nodded home Mendes' cross for 4-2.

It leaves Portsmouth chasing Europe on two fronts while Birmingham continue the scrap at the foot of the Premier League table.

  • Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp:
    "It was nice to get four goals at home because we haven't got many here since the seven against Reading.

    "I'm told we're seventh in the table now and it's going to be a tough scrap for the European places.

    "Credit to Birmingham for coming back from two down because it looked like we could get five or six at that point."

    Birmingham manager Alex McLeish:
    "I'd rather play rubbish and win to be honest, but it was a spirited performance by us especially after conceding an early goal.

    "The mental strength was marvellous. We weathered a storm and began the second half well, but we got punished again.

    "We played right to the end, we were committed and pushed players up but we got punished for going for a draw."

    Portsmouth: James, Johnson, Campbell, Distin, Hreidarsson, Diop (Diarra 62), Muntari, Pedro Mendes, Kranjcar, Baros (Kanu 72), Defoe (Lauren 85).
    Subs Not Used: Ashdown, Utaka.

    Goals: Defoe 6 pen, 9, Hreidarsson 49, Kanu 90.

    Birmingham: Maik Taylor, Kelly, Jaidi, Ridgewell, Murphy, McSheffrey, Johnson, Muamba, Larsson, Forssell (Jerome 73), Zarate (McFadden 61).
    Subs Not Used: Doyle, Nafti, Parnaby.

    Booked: Zarate.

    Goals: Muamba 10, Larsson 40.

    Att: 20,138

    Ref: Steve Tanner (Somerset).

    BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Portsmouth's Jermain Defoe 7.77 (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.

    see also
    How to watch Match of the Day
    08 Oct 07 |  Match of the Day

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