The FA Cup Semi-Finals
Tottenham Hotspur 0-2 Portsmouth
Frederic Piquionne and Kevin-Prince Boateng were the extra-time heroes for Portsmouth as Avram Grant's men booked their place in The FA Cup Final.
In a season of more downs than ups for Pompey and just 24 hours after their relegation from the Premier League was confirmed, Piquionne and Boateng gave their faithful fans something to be proud of. Despite Tottenham’s lion’s share of the possession, Portsmouth's spirit remained strong to take the game into extra-time where Piquionne's opener stunned the Spurs support and Boateng's penalty in the closing minutes capped a good day.
Tottenham had earlier enjoyed a bright opening at Wembley, with Peter Crouch and Tom Huddlestone both having chances as Portsmouth rarely went forward. But they almost caught Spurs out on the break with eleven minutes gone. A Tottenham corner was cleared and found Frederic Piquionne who carried the ball forward with pace into his opponent's half. But with support either side, the Frenchman opted for a shot and a deflection took out the sting making it easy for Heurelho Gomes.
Either side could have gone in at half-time with a valuable lead. Peter Crouch’s header from a clipped in cross from Tom Huddlestone looked to be going in but David James was equal to it, diving to his right to pluck from the top corner. Huddlestone almost found the opposite corner moments later, but his chip from distance was just too high. Piquionne had the pick of the chances, though, breaking free one-on-one. As the Pompey crowd behind the Spurs goal rose in anticipation, Piquionne couldn’t find the finish and Gomes saved well with his legs. Dindane couldn't do enough with the rebound and Spurs cleared.
The game continued to flow from end to end as it had done in the first half. Piquionne would have been angry with himself for not finishing off a great cross from Dindane, which Gomes held easily. Then in the other area Jermain Defoe failed to get hold of a Crouch knock-down, sending the shot trickling towards James. That was his last involvement as the England man made way for Russian Roman Pavlyuchenko, who had hit four goals so far in The Cup for Tottenham this season.
With 25 minutes left, a corner from David Bentley had James at full stretch and yet he couldn’t prevent the ball from reaching Crouch eight yards out, but his sheer size may have done enough to put off his former team-mate as he could only guide his head wide of the post. Spurs were edging possession and looked the most dangerous, but were by no means dominating.
Chances were coming their way but Portsmouth continued to keep them at bay. Meanwhile, they posed a threat on the counter and at any time looked capable of springing a surprise. Crouch, however, almost nicked a winner in injury time as he looked to divert Bale’s low drive past James, but somehow the England man kept it out. And ten minutes into extra-time Tottenham were left to despair at their missed chances as the breakthrough finally came. Piquionne capitalised on a slip by Michael Dawson, getting to the ball first ten yards out to prod home underneath Gomes.
Spurs thought they'd got themselves back into the game just two minutes later as Crouch pounced on a bouncing ball in the area and tucked into the empty net. But while he reeled away in celebration and the Spurs fans cheered in relief, referee Alan Wiley was signalling for a foul on James following Bale's initial cross. Pompey could have wrapped up the victory with a two-on-one counter attack but the passing between John Utaka and Dindane allowed Luka Modric to get back to cover. However, it wasn't long before they booked their place against Chelsea. A foul on Dindane by Wilson Palacios inside the box gave Kevin-Prince Boateng the chance to seal victory for the South-Coast side and make sure they end an otherwise disappointing season in The FA Cup Final back at Wembley.
1 Heurelho Gomes, 3 Gareth Bale, 5 David Bentley (21 Niko Kranjcar), 6 Tom Huddlestone (17 Eidur Gudjohnsen), 12 Wilson Palacios, 14 Luka Modric, 15 Peter Crouch, 18 Jermain Defoe (9 Roman Pavlyuchenko), 19 Sebastien Bassong, 20 Michael Dawson (c), 23 Vedran Corluka
Subs not used
25 Danny Rose, 27 Ben Alnwick, 29 Jake Livermore, 32 Benoit Assou-Ekotto
Manager Harry Redknapp
1 David James (c), 16 Steve Finnan, 3 Ricardo Rocha, 4 Aaron Mokoena, 6 Hayden Mullins (22 Richard Hughes), 35 Mark Wilson, 11 Michael Brown, 32 Hassan Yebda (17 John Utaka), 9 Frederic Piquionne (8 Papa Bouba Diop), 23 Kevin Prince Boateng, 24 Aruna Dindane
Subs not used
21 Jamie Ashdown, 27 Kanu, 33 Angelos Basinas, 20 Tommy Smith
Manager Avram Grant
Referee Alan Wiley
Assistant Referees Peter Kirkup And David Richardson
Fourth Official Stuart Attwell