Kamara gives Redknapp full value

Middlesbrough 1 - Portsmouth 1
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The Independent Football

The record books show that Portsmouth paid Modena £2.2m for Diomansy Kamara in the summer, but Harry Redknapp isn't quite so sure.

After seeing the Senegalese forward underline his rich potential with a stunning first Premiership goal, the Portsmouth manager talked about his desire to hang on to the 23-year-old, who was born in Paris and speaks fluent Italian. When pressed as to why they should have to hang on to a player they have only just signed, Redknapp fell silent, an unusual act for someone so verbose.

He then revealed his uncertainty as to whether the player has joined the club on loan, or permanently, as most sources would have us believe.

But after glossing over the subject without giving a definitive answer, the Portsmouth manager enthused: "He's scored a good goal, and I think he can be a top player in this country for years to come."

Redknapp's hype appears to hold substance. Just seven minutes had elapsed when Kamara won possession midway into the Middlesbrough half before striding forward to unleash a low shot into the bottom corner.

Off came the shirt in celebration, quickly accompanied by the obligatory booking. Redknapp added: "He doesn't speak a word of English, so he doesn't know about the rule, and my Senegalese isn't too good.

"Joe Jordan's the only one of the coaching staff who can talk to him because he can speak Italian, and we'vea couple of Senegal lads, so that helps."

Stewart Downing appears to have a similarly bright future, although in contrast to Redknapp, Steve McClaren, the Middlesbrough manager, was keen to play down the clamour for the 20-year-old to be recognised with a full England cap after his goal rescued a point for the hosts 15 minutes from time.

Having switched to the right to try his luck, Downing cut into the box and fired home a left-footed shot through the legs of Shaka Hislop. McClaren said: "Downing was having a quiet game on the left, so we put him on the right. Credit to Portsmouth, they caught us on the break, but on another day we'd have scored three or four."

They would certainly have scored one more had not Hislop produced a wondrous late save to keep out Mark Viduka's point-blank header, but a winner at that juncture would have been grossly unfair on the visitors.

Redknapp added: "A point is a bonus at a place like this. It's always disappointing to lose a late equaliser, but we've made a solid start to the season with 12 points, and it puts us ahead of where we were last year."

Goals: Kamara (7) 0-1; Downing (75) 1-1.

Middlesbrough (4-4-2): Schwarzer; McMahon, Riggott, Southgate, Zenden; Mendieta (Nemeth, 39), Boateng (Cooper, 90), Parlour, Downing; Hasselbaink, Viduka. Substitutes not used: Nash (gk), Ehiogu, Morrison.

Portsmouth (4-5-1): Hislop; Griffin, Primus, Stefanovic, Unsworth (Taylor, 46); LuaLua (Fuller, 70), Quashie, Faye, Berger, Kamara (Cissé, 81); Yakubu. Substitutes not used: Ashdowne (gk), Berkovic.

Referee: M Atkinson (Yorkshire).

Booked: Portsmouth: Kamara, Fuller.

Man of the match: Kamara.

Attendance: 30,964.