Redknapp's side crumble amid Pompey delight

Portsmouth 4 - Southampton 1
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The Independent Football

When Portsmouth last finished above Southampton, Harold Macmillan was prime minister and Burnley won the championship. That was 1960. The following year Portsmouth were relegated to the old Third Division and they have been playing catch-up ever since.

When Portsmouth last finished above Southampton, Harold Macmillan was prime minister and Burnley won the championship. That was 1960. The following year Portsmouth were relegated to the old Third Division and they have been playing catch-up ever since.

Yesterday they finally made it. This evisceration of their local rivals healed the wound caused by Harry Redknapp's exchange of loyalties, all but ensured Portsmouth's Premiership survival, made a huge dent in Southampton's hopes of avoiding relegation, and confirmed that Portsmouth would, for the first time in 45 years, finish above their neighbours.

The match was settled in 27 minutes but the celebrations went on for hours and the memory will linger for years. Lomana Tresor LuaLua was the agent of Southampton's downfall, destroying Saints with a bewitching combination of pace and trickery.

It was LuaLua who was brought down for Pompey's fourth-minute penalty, converted by Aiyegbeni Yakubu. After Arjan de Zeeuw had added a second, and Henri Camara pulled one back, LuaLua scored twice in five minutes. He then departed with a hamstring injury which appeared to have been aggravated by the somersault celebrations of his first goal.

Though LuaLua later denied this, Alain Perrin thought it likely. The new Portsmouth manager was, though, in forgiving move. "In France I always lost derbies so I was afraid before the match but I was not nervous during it," he said. Perrin added: "We could have scored more goals but we controlled the game. It was a good result for the fans."

Much more than good. "The Chimes" were ringing out as delirium took over Fratton Park. The pre-match focus had been on Redknapp and home support began with chants of "Judas" and "Bottom of the League with Harry and Jim [Smith]", but then the team did the talking for them. Redknapp, who rarely appeared from the dug-out, was largely ignored as the fans settled on, "We're going to send the Scummers down."

Matches like these come down to mental strength as much as talent and it was in this that Southampton were found wanting. Saturday's results, which left Southampton bottom, had added to the pressure and experienced men who have served the club well, like Claus Lundekvam and Antti Niemi, cracked.

They were not alone. Lundekvam's defensive partners were sloppy, while the midfield were overrun by Portsmouth, with Jamie Redknapp a shadow of his former self.

The home side, apart from a lazy performance by Yakubu, were far superior. In midfield, Steve Stone and Patrik Berger rolled back the years, ably abetted by the younger legs of Richard Hughes and Gary O'Neil. In defence, Dejan Stefanovic and De Zeeuw were commanding. All these players, like LuaLua, were bought, or brought through, by Redknapp. He could be proud of the team he built, but not the one he manages.

The fates turned against Southampton even before kick-off when Peter Crouch, their leading scorer and an ex-Portsmouth player, broke down with a hamstring injury in the warm-up and had to be replaced by Henri Camara.

Four minutes into the match Redknapp's woes multiplied as O'Neil chipped a pass over the top which LuaLua broke on to past the hesitating Lundekvam. Niemi charged from his goal and clattered into the Congolese striker. Yakubu coolly chipped the penalty into the roof of the net.

Portsmouth went for the kill and after 17 minutes Stone was fouled on the right. De Zeeuw slipped his marker, Lundekvam, to head in Berger's free-kick. Perhaps Lundekvam was distracted by the sight of two Southampton fans being ejected, thankfully the only off-field incident in the match.

As Portsmouth switched off, Camara gave Southampton hope, going past Stefanovic and De Zeeuw before beating Jamie Ashdown with an angled shot. The respite was brief as Berger played a searching pass over the top that brought Niemi tearing 25 yards from his goal. He misjudged the bounce and LuaLua punished him with an impressive finish.

He then settled the game, curling a 20-yard shot in off the post after leading a counter-attack. He soon departed, his hamstring sore but his job done. Though Southampton re-organised at the break, going to 3-5-2, Yakubu and Camara still had enough chances to turn a drubbing into a humiliation.

"It's not been a good day," said Harry Redknapp. "I can understand the fans being upset but I wish them well. I've a lot of friends here."

He added, of Saints' predicament: "We're in a big hole. When I got here one of the staff said to me, 'you've no chance here with this squad' but we keep going. I have to lift them again. There is a lack of confidence. It's no good me slating them. Telling them they are no good does them no good at all. But if we can win our remaining games we stay up."

Goals: Yakubu, (4, pen) 1-0; De Zeeuw (17) 2-0; Camara (20) 2-1; LuaLua (22) 3-1; LuaLua (27) 4-1.

Portsmouth (4-4-2): Ashdown; Griffin, Stefanovic, De Zeeuw, Taylor; Stone, O' Neil, Hughes, Berger (Cissé,57); Yakubu (Skopelitis, 77), LuaLua (Kamara, 28). Substitutes not used: Hislop (gk), Fuller.

Southampton (4-4-2): Niemi; Delap, Lundekvam, Jakobsson, Higginbotham; Telfer, Redknapp, Quashie, Oakley (Bernard, h-t); Phillips, Camara. Substitutes not used: Smith (gk), A Svensson, Davenport, Nilsson.

Referee: S Dunn (Gloucestershire).

Booked: Portsmouth Hughes, Griffin. Southampton Lundekvam, Redknapp.

Man of the match: LuaLua.

Attendance: 20,210.

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