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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 November 2004, 21:37 GMT
Watford 3-0 Portsmouth
Heidar Helguson scores one of two goals against Premiership team Portsmouth
Portsmouth's traumatic week sunk to new depths as they were knocked out of the Carling Cup by Watford.

Pompey, who again saw the fall-out from Harry Redknapp's exit overshadow a game, went behind in the 24th minute through Heidar Helguson's header.

Helguson, the star when Watford knocked out Southampton in the last round, slotted home his second from Jermaine Darlington's 57th-minute cross.

Bruce Dyer then tucked home after James Chambers' 61st-minute shot was saved.

Redknapp, who quit along with his assistant Jim Smith after the appointment of director of football Velimir Zajec, faced the media hours before this game to further elaborate on the reasons for last week's resignation.

It cannot have helped the preparations of his former charges for this quarter-final, and they looked a shadow of the team which won 1-0 at Bolton on Saturday against all expectations.

Zajec, standing in as manager until Redknapp is replaced, tweaked the team which triumphed at the Reebok Stadium, bringing in David Unsworth for Dejan Stefanovic and Eyal Berkovic for Andy Griffin.

In contrast Watford, whose supporters were still cramming in to Vicarage Road as the game got underway, were hungry to avenge Saturday's 3-2 defeat to West Ham after they had led 2-0.

Boss Ray Lewington kept the same team from that match - challenging the Hornets to get the painful defeat out of their systems - but they almost fell behind as early as the 10th minute.

Velimir Zajec (right) watches the game with Milan Mandaric
Zajec accompanied chairman Milan Mandaric at the game

Luckily for the hosts Linvoy Primus, unmarked at the far post, sliced the ball over from just six yards out after stealing on to Patrick Berger's free-kick.

Just 14 minutes later, Portsmouth were made to pay.

Young goalkeeper Jamie Ashdown - preferred to the experienced Shaka Hislop - came for a free-kick but got there after Icelandic striker Helguson, whose header crept in despite the last-gasp attempt to clear by Unsworth.

Pompey, despite never really looking like the Premiership outfit, had a chance to go in level at the break but Berger's thumping effort four minutes before the break was well dealt with by keeper Richard Lee.

Zajec, aware that progress to the semi-finals would lift the mood of uncertainty around Fratton Park, sent on Kevin Harper at half-time to partner Ricardo Fuller as Portsmouth switched from one up front to a more attacking 4-4-2 system.

It did not work, however, as Watford quickly grabbed two more goals.

Firstly Gavin Mahon fed Darlington who went past Griffin and crossed for Helguson.

He found himself not picked up by Primus, was able to slot home his second of the match in the 57th minute.

Then Ashdown made a save from James Chambers' shot only to see Hornets striker Dyer convert the rebound from close-range.

Portsmouth's supporters began to leave in their droves and the wisdom of getting out of Vicarage Road early was highlighted when Watford almost extended their lead three times.

Neal Ardley's shot hit the underside of the bar and then Ashdown was forced to keep out a powerful shot by the ex-Wimbledon man, before Paul Devlin was also denied.

Watford: Lee, Darlington, Dyche, Cox, Doyley, Ardley, Mahon, Gunnarsson (Blizzard 45), Chambers, Dyer (Devlin 79), Helguson (Fitzgerald 88).
Subs Not Used: Chamberlain, Young.

Goals: Helguson 24, 57, Dyer 61.

Portsmouth: Ashdown, Primus, Unsworth (Griffin 46), De Zeeuw, Stone, Berkovic (Harper 46), Quashie, Taylor, Fuller, Berger, O'Neil (Cisse 90).
Subs Not Used: Hislop, Faye.

Att: 18,877.

Ref: D Gallagher (Oxfordshire).

Links to more League Cup stories


Report: BBC Radio Five Live's Jonathan Pearce

Interview: Watford boss Ray Lewington

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