Ferdinand finds old form to bury Pompey's hopes

Portsmouth 0 Leicester City 2

Leicester took the honours at Fratton Park as last season's top two in Division One renewed hostilities in the Barclaycard Premiership.

The Foxes took four points from Pompey last term and their grip over the Harry Redknapp's men continued into the top flight with goals from Les Ferdinand and Marcus Bent lifting them above Harry Redknapp's men in the table.

Veteran striker Ferdinand, 37 next month, pounced on the half hour mark with a blistering free kick while Bent's second in the 58th minute effectively guaranteed the result, despite Pompey's second–half superiority.

The Division One champions laid siege to Leicester's goal for long periods after the interval with Steve Stone and Tim Sherwood both going close, but their opponents' defence held firm throughout.

Pompey have had few problems scoring at Fratton Park – along with Chelsea they are the only team to average more than two home goals a game so far this season – but they struggled to finish a hatful of chances.

Instead, it was Leicester who showed the killer instinct after claiming two goals even though they barely created a decent chance all match.

They have now won their last two matches on the road to complete a remarkable turnaround in away form – prior to the 3–0 victory over Manchester City three weeks ago they had not won on their travels all season.

Leicester started with Ferdinand and Bent up–front after Scotland striker and leading scorer Paul Dickov had failed to recover from a back injury – but the former Arsenal marksman was hardly missed.

The evergreen Ferdinand threatened early on he met James Scowcroft's pinpoint cross on the edge of the area only to the ball bounce away from his grasp, giving Pompey's defence the time to scramble to safety.

Steve Stone fired a vicious–looking shot from 25 yards only for centre–back Steve Howey to block his effort while Sheringham flashed a header wide moments later as Redknapp's men began to settle.

Pompey continued to pile on the pressure with Arjan de Zeeuw proving a handful down the left before hitting two shots in quick succession, with the first saved by Ian Walker and the second rolling harmlessly off–target.

Ferdinand went close in the 20th minute, capitalising on an error by Hayden Foxe – who was looking distinctly shaky – before smashing his shot into the advertising board when he should have done much better.

But the former England forward could not be denied in the 31st minute when Zivkovic's tackle on Scowcroft resulted in a free kick which Ferdinand smashed into the net from some 20 yards out.

The match desperately needed Ferdinand's effort given the dire performances by both teams who repeatedly gave the ball away in midfield, although the goal did appear to spark the Foxes into life.

They continued to pour forward and despite lacking any real creativity and a brief period of ascendancy from Pompey, they appeared the most likely source of the second goal until referee Mike Dean blew the half–time whistle.

Bent forced Harald Wapenaar into an athletic save but Pompey went inches close at the other end before winning a succession of corners which Leicester weathered with a resolute passage of defending.

It was the visitors who were under the cosh now as Stone renewed Pompey's attack, marauding down the right until two Foxes defenders shoved him off the ball – and shortly after the former England midfielder then had crack at goal which was deflected wide.

Portsmouth continued to press as Yakubu Ayegbini had a penalty shout waved on by Dean – much to the disgust of the home crowd – and instants later Sherwood flashed his header over the crossbar.

But despite their clear superiority, the home side conceded a second in the 59th minute when Izzet's free–kick was scrambled into the back of the net from close range by Bent who was lurking with menace.

Leicester regained the initiative as the match neared its conclusion, although Pompey still had enough fuel in the tank to launch the occasional raid which met with little success.

Yakubu was booked for diving as the home team began clutching at straws but Leicester had already done enough for victory.

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