Sunday, April 11, 2010

Relegated Portsmouth Beat Spurs, Set Up Fairytale Cup Final With Chelsea

Just over 24 hours after being relegated to the Championship, Portsmouth pulled off the most unlikely of results and beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 in the FA Cup Semi-Finals at Wembley after extra time with goals from Frederic Piquionne and ex-Spurs star Kevin Prince-Boateng.

It was fitting that the winning goal came Boateng's right foot as the young German fired home the final nail in the coffin of Harry Redknapp and Spurs from the penalty spot with just three minutes to go from a pulsating 120.

Piquionne had put Pompey into the lead after he latched onto Boateng's lofted free kick, following Michael Dawson's inopportune slip in the six yard box.

It was a fully deserved win for Avram Grant's side as they Spurs all the way in a real end-to-end game that brought the best from both 'keepers. While Spurs tore into Pompey from the off, the recently relegated side fought back to leave their ex-managers side on the ropes as the sides headed towards halftime.

The second half was almost a mirrored image of the first with Portsmouth dominating the early exchanges before Spurs came strongly back into the game.

With nothing between the two sides as the game headed towards extra time, it took the wrong footing of one of Spurs' best players on the day, Michael Dawson, to gift Piquionne with a goal-scoring chance. The French striker had received close attention all day from the defender chasing a ticket on the plane to South Africa and it was a cruel way to lose the lead.

Portsmouth's fans had cheered every pass, every tackle, every run, and every block that their team made on the day and they took every opportunity they had to boo their ex-players, of which there is a sizeable contingent at Spurs.

Not only is the current Spurs boss, Harry Redknapp, the man who brought Portsmouth to FA Cup glory in 2008, there. But he has also raided the South Coast club for some of their best players. Jermaine Defoe, Peter Crouch, Niko Krancjar, and Younnes Kaboul have all joined Redknapp at Tottenham over the last 18 months.

It was therefore somewhat ironic that the man that Redknapp deemed as little more than a troubled makeweight scored what was effectively the winning goal.

Kevin Prince-Boateng did not enjoy the best of times under Juande Ramos or Harry Redknapp, and when the Spurs boss sold him to Portsmouth he would have never figured in his wildest dreams that he would be the player to ruin Tottenham's chances of getting to the final.

The attacking midfielder has been one of Portsmouth's best players in a disastrous season for the club. He has maintained a high standard while many of Pompey's players have struggled under the weight of administration. When Avram Grant took over the full running of the club he signalled that hope way the key.

To Read Portsmouth's FA Cup Shawshank Redemption, click the link.

Stating that the fear of relegation was holding them prisoner but that the hope of an FA Cup Final appearance could set them free.

To win the game in the manner that they did is the stuff of dreams, to win it over your ex-manager and ex-players is right out of a fairytale.

As the final whistle blew, Portsmouth's fans literally turned the air blue as Pompey jerseys and scarves soared high into the Wembley sky. By that stage there were precious few Tottenham fans left in the arena, and as Harry Redknapp choked back his disappointment and hugged his friend Avram Grant, it was Pompey who could look forward to the final.

To have the game against Chelsea, Grant's ex-employers who sacked him after losing the Champions League Final to Manchester United, is just another chapter in a season like no other.