Defoe leaves his mark as Spurs ride their luck

Portsmouth 1 Tottenham Hotspur 2

The build-up centred on Harry Redknapp, but the match revolved around another unpopular returnee to Fratton Park. Jermain Defoe, who followed Redknapp to White Hart Lane rather too eagerly for Portsmouth fans to stomach in January, scored what proved to be the winning goal, but was then dismissed for violent conduct.

Defoe saw red on the hour for a "stamp" on Aaron Mokoena shortly after Kevin-Prince Boateng had halved a Tottenham lead established by Ledley King and Defoe in the first half. It was more of a "tread"; Mokoena felt so little pain he grabbed his knee in fake agony instead of his calf where contact was made, but it was still a sending-off offence.

Michael Brown was also dismissed, in injury-time, as Portsmouth attempted with increasingly frantic desperation to level. There was no shortage of effort from the Premier League's bottom club, but a lack of intelligence once they had a man advantage. "You make your own luck, but if performances remain like that and we remain resolute, things will turn," said Paul Hart, Portsmouth's manager. Redknapp agreed, adding, "I'm not just saying that."

He had no reason not to be magnanimous having been given a relatively mild reception. "I didn't know what to expect because of what I had been reading," he said, "but the fans were fantastic. It proved it was all hyped out of nothing." There was enough verbal abuse to suggest that was not entirely the case but some supporters applauded and shook hands with the two-time Pompey manager who happily signed autographs. Redknapp did allow himself a wink at the photographers, but studiously did not celebrate Spurs' goals. He remained ensconced in the dug-out leaving Defoe, more obviously in the firing line since he was on the pitch, to bear the brunt of the flak.

The England striker nearly punished his abusers in the ninth minute when he drifted onto Tom Huddlestone's pass, but struck the near post. If that was an escape for Portsmouth it was nothing to the reprieve Aruna Dindane granted the visitors two minutes later. Tommy Smith turned Vedran Corluka and sprinted away to deliver the perfect cross behind Spurs' backline. Dindane somehow turned the ball over from three yards.

Though Boateng, trying too hard to prove to Spurs fans he was not as useless as he appeared at White Hart Lane, shot on sight, Heurelho Gomes was most exercised by another ex-Spur, Younes Kaboul, whose fierce free-kick took a wicked deflection off Smith but was brilliantly parried by the Brazilian.

The value of this save was evident five minutes later when King rose unchallenged to head Niko Kranjcar's corner past a poorly positioned David James in Portsmouth's goal. A minute before the break it was 2-0. Jermaine Jenas played a one-two with Huddlestone before supplying a cross from the right. Defoe got in front of Steve Finnan to turn it home. If his celebrations were more raucous than the studied calm of Redknapp they provoked little ire from a home support which now seemed resigned to their team's fate.

The team, however, refused to roll over. After Gomes denied Smith, and Dindane missed another sitter from Smith's cut-back, Boateng hit the target, lashing in at the far post.

Then came Defoe's flash of madness. Redknapp said: "I told him 15 times before the game, don't react." Redknapp felt Spurs were "hanging on" thereafter but, aside from Hassan Yebda's smartly-saved volley they failed to test Gomes even though Portsmouth's performance was better than the result suggested.

Attendance: 20,821

Referee: Phil Dowd

Man of the match: Gomes

Match rating: 7/10

general electionThis quiz matches undecided voters with the best party for them
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen starred in the big screen adaptation of Austen's novel in 2005
tvStar says studios are forcing actors to get buff for period roles
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before