Barclay’s English Premiership
Saturday 14 February 2009, 15:00 KO
City: Given, Logan, Kompany (c), Onuoha, Bridge, Zabaleta (Evans 79), de Jong, Ireland, Elano, Robinho (Caicedo 66), Bellamy
Unused: Hart, Garrido, Berti, Gelson, Weiss
Booked: de Jong, Ireland, Bellamy
City Man of the Match: Shay Given
City had the chance to go seventh with a Valentine’s Day victory at Fratton Park, but their performance got exactly what it deserved – absolutely nothing. Portsmouth were expected to improve, in truth they could hardly have been any worse than in recent weeks, and they were boosted by a new manager.
City never really got going in the opening stages, with Portsmouth having most of the possession. Their first opportunity came on eight minutes, when a corner eventually found its way to Pennant, who found Crouch in the middle, but the tall centre-forward’s shot was straight at Shay Given.
A minute later, David Nugent broke free and tried to take the ball around the on-coming Given, but he couldn’t get past him and eventually prodded a shot under the City keeper, but well wide of the post.
It took City 20 minutes to muster a shot, and it was Elano from well outside the box. But his shot was over the bar and didn’t trouble former City-man David James.
Nugent then forced a good save from Given at the edge of his box, before Kompany dispossessed Crouch in the box with an excellent sliding challenge. Both sides were struggling to play, but City were having the most problems.
Elano then whipped a free-kick into the box and found Nedum Onuoha, but the centre-back could only direct his header straight at the home side’s goalkeeper.
The Brazilian then had a go from a 30-yard free kick, but it was another tame effort and it was an easy catch for David James, with Elano struggling to impress on his return to the team.
The second half began and City started the brighter, but didn’t manage to force a decent attempt on goal. With 53 minutes gone, Nugent was played onside and broke away for another one-on-one with Given. With just the keeper to beat, the former Preston striker scuffed his shot wide.
Bellamy then fired over from a Stephen Ireland knock-down and City were struggling to create many chances.
And with 20 minutes of the game left, there seemed to be only one winner. And they scored – Glen Johnson, cutting in from the right hand side, forced a good save from Shay Given, before he smashed the rebound past the City keeper and into the top left corner of the goal.
Five minutes later, and it got worse for City. Hermann Hreidarsson slipped Vincent Kompany at a corner and rose better than the acting-City captain to power a header into the same corner as Johnson’s opening effort, leaving Given standing.
Evans, the substitute, then forced an excellent save out of David James with a header before a Glen Johnson shot was cleared off the line by Shaleum Logan. And that was the last action of the game, with the City fans disappointed their side couldn’t build on their recent good form.