The FA Cup Final
17 May 2008
The FA Cup Final Sponsored By E.On
Portsmouth 1 - 0 Cardiff City
Portsmouth lifted The FA Cup for only the second time in their history and for the first time in 69 years at Wembley, as Nwankwo Kanu's first half goal settled the final with Cardiff City.
They last lifted The Cup in 1939, but Harry Redknapp, himself landing his first major honour as a manager, has built a tough and competitive team at Fratton Park and they just had too much for City on the day.
The Bluebirds themselves had only won The FA Cup once before in their history and it was much to manager David Jones' credit that they ran their Premiership opponents as hard as this for 90 tense and tough minutes.
It all started with a performance of 'Abide With Me' and the two national anthems being performed by Lesley Garrett and Katherin Jenkins and with the dignitaries over, the game got underway.
Portsmouth looked to make the most of their kick off and a Sulley Muntari shot from 30 yards in the opening seconds saw the register the first shot of the afternoon, but Peter Enckelman saved comfortably before Cardiff began to enjoy more of the possession themselves.
With 12 minutes gone, City had a great chance to take the lead when Joe Ledley's through ball was picked up by Paul Parry in the box. He looked to slide a left footed shot past David James, but the Pompey 'keeper was equal to it and made a good block.
From the resulting corner, Peter Whittingham's effort took a sizeable deflection and bounced narrowly wide of the post with James stranded.
At the other end, Portsmouth came even closer in the 21st minute. Niko Krancjar and Muntari linked well on the left before the later picked out Kanu in the box. The Nigerian appeared certain to open the scoring after dancing around Enkleman, but he placed his shot against the post when it seemed easier to score from a matter of yards.
The Championship side were still posing problems for Pompey though and James was again left struggling in the 26th minute, when Whittingham's pacy free kick from the left was met by the head of Roger Johnson but his effort flew narrowly over the bar.
It was Kanu who broke the deadlock and made amends for his earlier miss in the 37th minute though. John Utaka delivered a fine cross from the right and when Enckelman couldn't keep hold of the ball, Kanu was there to fire home from close range.
The goal prompted the ideal response from the Welshman though and when Tony Capaldi played a slide rule pass down the left, Parry ran clear again. He broke into the box and when presented with an opportunity to shoot himself, chose to play a ball across the area. Unfortunatley for City, by the time Gavin Rae arrived on the end of it, the angle was too tight and the chance went begging.
Cardiff had the ball in the net on the stroke of half time too, when Glenn Loovens lifted a lob into the goal following a corner but the whistle had already been sounded for a previous handball and the effort was chalked out.
Neither team made any changes at the break and with both sides shooting towards their own fans in the second half, battle commenced again.
A fine move from Pompey in the 51st minute saw Lassana Diarra exquisitely link up with Kranjcar, whose back heel sent the Frenchman into the area. He found Kanu, but his shot was blocked by Loovens to prevent what surely would have been a second for the striker.
As the second half progressed, Portsmouth always looked the more likely team to add to the scoreline and substitute David Nugent forced Enckelman into a smart save in the 71st minute, with a looping, angled shot from the right hand side.
With just over five minutes remaining, Sylzain Distin almost scored a goal fit to grace any Cup Final as he picked the ball up on the half way line and rampaged past a few challenges before just running out of room in the area.
Cardiff's big chance arrived in the 89th minute when Kevin mcNaughton's run and cross from the right caused all sorts of panic in the Pompey area. The ball eventually fell to teenage substitute Aaron Ramsey, but after working some space for himself, his shot was blocked.
Deep into stoppage time, the Bluebirds forced another spell of pressure and with every man in the area Enckelman stepped forward to play the ball into the danger zone. Portsmouth remained resolute though and when James claimed the final corner, the Premiership side could breathe again as just a matter of seconds later Mike Dean signalled full time and the celebrations could begin.
Cardiff City: 1 Peter Enckelman, 2 Kevon McNaughton, 3 Tony Capaldi, 4 Gavin Rae (18 Trevor Sinclair, 87), 6 Glen Loovens, 7 Peter Whittingham (30 Aaron Ramsey, 62), 10 Stephen McPhail, 11 Paul Parry, 12 Roger Johnson, 16 Joe Ledley, 36 Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink (20 Steven Thompson, 71).
Subs not used: 13 Michael Oakes, 5 Darren Purse
Portsmouth: 1 David James, 5 Glen Johnson, 6 Lassana Diarra, 7 Hermann Hreidarsson, 11 Sulley Muntari, 15 Sylvain Distin, 17 John Utaka (10 David Nugent, 69), 19 Niko Kranjcar, 23 Sol Campbell, 27 Nwankwo Kanu (9 Milan Baros, 86), 30 Pedro Mendes (8 Papa Bouba Diop, 78)
Subs Not used: 21 Jamie Ashdown, 16 Noe Pamarot