Hreidarsson injury piles on misery for Grant
Tottenham Hotspur 2 Portsmouth 0
Monday 29 March 2010
Portsmouth started the day able to name only six substitutes, instead of the permitted seven, and finished this match with just 10 players on the pitch. If it was not already clear, Avram Grant's men are, with nine points deducted for going into administration, running on empty.
Last week their misfortune and misery saw them lose four players to injury, two against Chelsea and then two in training. Against Tottenham, Hermann Hreidarsson, their most important defender, was taken off on a stretcher with a snapped achilles tendon and the unfortunate centre-back will miss the FA Cup semi-final between these two sides in a fortnight.
Then, near the end of the game and with only one substitution left to make, David James and Danny Webber, himself a substitute, both had to come off. The visitors were left a man short as James had a calf problem, while Webber damaged a knee and is also likely to be ruled out of the semi-final on 11 April.
Tottenham didn't capitalise on their numerical advantage but a header from Peter Crouch and a flick by Niko Kranjcar – both formerly of Pompey – had done the damage by then and firmed up Spurs' grip on fourth place and the last Champions League slot.
With Aston Villa imploding, Harry Redknapp, the Spurs manager, feels it is now a three-way fight with Liverpool and Manchester City for fourth.
Kranjcar, who was bought by Redknapp at both Pompey and Spurs, did not celebrate his goal out of respect for his former employers. He explained: "None of us who played there are happy with the situation at Portsmouth. It is sad to see what's happened and I wish them well. We never knew that the owners or whoever spent more than they were able to. We were in the top half of the Premier League, we won the FA Cup, we were playing European football."
James, who will be fit for the semi-final but could be rested this weekend, feels that, despite everything, Pompey can pull off a surprise at Wembley. The England goalkeeper said: "We can beat Tottenham in the semi-final. Look at [this game], I haven't been overly stretched and their keeper made a couple of good saves. Two weeks' time should be interesting."
Spurs have not been to an FA Cup final since winning the competition in 1991, although they have reached Wembley for the Carling Cup final twice in the last three seasons. Portsmouth were last in the FA Cup final in 2008, when they beat Cardiff.
That year Grant was Chelsea's manager, when John Terry's slip in the penalty shoot-out in the Champions League final handed the trophy to Manchester United. Given what has happened to him at Portsmouth, it's tempting to think Grant's luck has never returned.
Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-1-1): Gomes; K Walker, Dawson (Kaboul, 62), Bassong, Bale; Bentley, Huddlestone, Modric, Kranjcar (Assou-Ekotto, 67); Gudjohnsen (Pavlyuchenko, 79), Crouch. Substitutes not used: Alnwick (gk), Palacios, Rose, Livermore.
Portsmouth (4-5-1): James (Ashdown, 89); Mullins, Mokoena, Hreidarsson (Webber, 52), Finnan; Vanden Borre, Basinas (Owusu-Abeyie, 84), Brown, Hughes, Piquionne; Kanu. Substitutes not used: Ward, Ritchie, Sowah.
Referee: K Friend (Leicestershire).
Booked: Portsmouth Hughes.
Man of the match: Bale.
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
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