Fulham 0 Portsmouth 2: Benjani adds to worries for Fulham and Sanchez

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The Independent Football

"We want seven," chorused the Pompey chimers. They had to settle for two but they left Craven Cottage singing of going "on a European tour".

While Fulham slid into the bottom three with this defeat, Portsmouth are looking ever upwards. Two goals in three minutes from Benjani Mwaruwari and Hermann Hreidarsson shortly after the interval earned Harry Redknapp's team their fourth successive win and a place in the top five.

"It was a great result, but I don't get carried away," said Redknapp. "Europe is possible, but if we can finish in the top half it will be a great achievement. I know where the club has been."

Fulham had shared six goals in each of their previous two home matches; Portmouth's last outing was the 7-4 caper with Reading. A scoreless draw was obviously on the cards and at half-time it seemed that may be the case. There was plenty of neat approach play but few clear chances created. When they were the goalkeepers were equal to the challenge.

Fulham began brightly, David James dealing with long shots from Clint Dempsey, David Healy and Chris Baird in the first dozen minutes. They also finished the half strongly with James making a sharp save after Dempsey met Hamour Bouazza's low cross. In between Dempsey beat Sol Campbell to Baird's cross but glanced just wide.

Portsmouth's best efforts came on the break. Benjani went past two defenders to bring a low save from Kasey Keller after nine minutes. John Utaka, released by a long throw from James, did likewise half-an-hour later.

Both teams felt able to leave a £6m striker on the bench, suggesting they felt they had goals in them, even accepting that Diomansy Kamara and David Nugent have struggled to step up to the Premier League. So it proved, though there was a large slice of fortune about both Pompey strikes.

Four minutes after the interval Benjani took a pass from Sean Davis on the edge of the Fulham area, half-turned Bocanegra and beat Keller with a shot which skidded off the sole of the defender's boot. Two minutes later Hreidarsson won the ball off Baird, played a one-two with Nico Kranjcar and scored via a deflection off Baird's ankle.

Sean Davis and Utaka might have scored but there was no real likelihood of Fulham repeating recent comebacks against Spurs and Manchester City. Kamara brought saves from James but Portsmouth, with Sean Davis protecting the back four, were rarely under serious threat.

There were jeers for Lawrie Sanchez. "I can understand the fans' frustration," said the Fulham manager. "All season they have seen us play very well without taking the points. Fans don't want 'playing well', they don't want entertainment, they want points." So do chairmen.

Goals: Benjani (49) 0-1; Hreidarsson (51) 0-2.

Fulham (4-4-2): Keller; Baird (Murphy, 60), Hughes, Bocanegra, Konchesky; Davies, Smertin (Seol, 60), Steven Davis, Bouazza; Healy (Kamara, 60), Dempsey. Substitutes not used: Niemi (gk), Stefanovic.

Portsmouth (4-1-4-1): James; Johnson, Campbell, Distin, Hreidarsson (Pamarot, 86); Sean Davis; Utaka, Diop, (Mendes, 75), Muntari, Kranjcar; Benjani. Substitutes not used: Ashdown (gk), Nugent, Taylor.

Referee: H Webb (South Yorkshire).

Booked: Fulham Davis

Man of the match: Sean Davis.

Attendance: 20,774.

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