Aiyegbeni ends Cardiff's hopes

Cardiff City 0 - Portsmouth 2
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The Independent Online

Two goals in eight second-half minutes from the top scorer Aiyegbeni Yakubu enabled Portsmouth to overcome a spirited Cardiff side and reach the quarter-finals of the Carling Cup.

Two goals in eight second-half minutes from the top scorer Aiyegbeni Yakubu enabled Portsmouth to overcome a spirited Cardiff side and reach the quarter-finals of the Carling Cup.

The Cardiff manager, Lennie Lawrence, decided to abandon the rotation policy favoured in earlier round victories over Kidderminster, MK Dons and Bournemouth by selecting a full-strength side, but Portsmouth were missing 11 senior outfield players including the England Under-21 captain Gary O'Neil, recently recalled after an impressive loan spell at Ninian Park. Jamie Ashdown, Andy Griffin, Matthew Taylor and Aliou Cissé replaced Shaka Hislop, Linvoy Primus, Nigel Quashie and Ricardo Fuller.

After their 3-0 thrashing at Villa Park on Saturday, there was a decided crispness about Portsmouth's performance in the first 20 minutes with Lomana LuaLua and Aiyegbeni Yakubu full of running up front. The visitors created the first chance when Valery Mezague sent in LuaLua on the right, but the former Newcastle striker dragged his shot wide of the far post.

Cardiff had to wait until midway through the half before their first effort on goal when Paul Parry burst through down the left to test Ashdown with a neat, low drive. Then Alan Lee brought a smart, driving save from the Portsmouth goalkeeper with a shot from just outside the area.

With captain Graham Kavanagh's influence starting to wane, Portsmouth finished the half the stronger with Aiyegbeni nearly giving them the lead eight minutes from half-time.

In the second minute of the second-half, a scorching run by LuaLua down the right led to Aiyegbeni first turning his low cross against the bar and then forcing the ball home from close range.

As Cardiff struggled to cope with the resultant pressure, Taylor - who has struggled to recapture the promising form he showed during Portsmouth's promotion campaign two seasons ago - skipped two challenges before shaping to shoot. With his path to goal seemingly blocked, Taylor dragged the ball back away from goal.

Kavanagh could not stay on his feet as he made the tackle, alas neither could Taylor, and the contact between the pair was enough to convince the referee Graham Laws, who pointed to the spot.

Jobi McAnuff tried his luck from 25 yards as the hour approached, but it would have taken something special to beat Ashdown from that range, and the ball flew harmlessly over. Lee headed over from Boland's cross as the final 10 minutes approached at what was becoming a very subdued Ninian Park.

Despite their best efforts, Cardiff were unable to force their way back into the match and by the end, Portsmouth were toying with them.

The Pompey chimes rang out loudly at the final whistle, and with a favourable draw they might just be sounding again a mile or so down the road here - at the Millennium Stadium - come the end of February.

Cardiff City (4-4-2): Warner; Vidmar, Collins, Gabbidon, Barker; McAnuff (Jerome, 69), Kavanagh (Bullock, 69), Boland, Ledley; Parry (Fleetwood, 83), Lee. Substitutes not used: Weston, Alexander.

Portsmouth (4-4-2): Ashdown; Griffin, De Zeeuw, Stefanovic, Unsworth; Mezague, Faye, (Hughes, 79), Cissé (Pulis, 90), Taylor; LuaLua, Aiyegbeni (Fuller, 62). Substitutes not used: Hislop, Buxton.

Referee: G Laws (Tyne & Wear).

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