Fulham 1 Portsmouth 3: Pompey buoyant as O'Neil helps to turn the tide

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The Independent Football

Redknapp now believes they require a further 11 points to achieve security. "We needed back to back wins to get back in the race and that's what we've got. Suddenly we've also got a proper squad and five home games ahead. The turning point was the win against Manchester City." He was particularly grateful to the Pompey fans. "They made this like a home game."

Portsmouth scored after only 25 seconds. Lomana LuaLua provided a back-heel to Benjani Mwaruwari, whose deep cross Wayne Bridge failed to intercept. Gary O'Neil tapped in.

Fulham responded after a Portsmouth move had broken down when Steed Malbranque took possession and moved to the edge of the penalty area before driving a shot past Dean Kiely and inside the far post.

The Fulham defence looked vulnerable to the deft footwork and accurate passing of Andres D'Alessandro, and that of LuaLua, who outpaced Zat Knight and sent a shot past Mark Crossley.

Fulham again swept back into the attack. Brian McBride looped a header on to the crossbar, yet Portsmouth's rapid counter-attack remained a threat. If Portsmouth do reach safety they may not want to give much credit to the odd stroke of good fortune. However, here they reaped its benefits when, just after the hour mark, LuaLua headed back a free-kick from Pedro Mendes. The ball came to O'Neil who tried to curl a shot high above Crossley but that was only achieved thanks to a deflection off the head of LuaLua.

Until that moment Fulham seemed to be getting the advantage in midfield, but LuaLua was constantly nagging at the defence with his clever footwork and ability to get into the space between central defenders. Surprisingly, Portsmouth decided to take off the prominent D'Alessandro, who had been a similar thorn in Fulham's side.

Portsmouth's confidence that had been built in their two previous victories now gathered momentum. Their large band of supporters had seen the light and were further delighted when Fulham jeopardised their own chances of recovering by having Michael Brown make an absurdly risky and downright dangerous two-footed tackle on Sean Davis. The referee immediately showed the red card.

The Portsmouth fans began chanting "we are staying up" and Fulham missed two late chances to silence them. Both fell to substitute Heidar Helguson and these escapes added to the feeling that the tide has turned down on the South Coast while, on Thames-side, Fulham remain enigmatic - after all, they had beaten Chelsea in their last home match. Their manager, Chris Coleman, asked that his team should take heart from that win and continue it to the end of the season. They had counted without the revived spirit of Portsmouth.