David James need have had no worries about being seen as the bad guy on his first return to the club which sold him earlier this month.
That tag was the exclusive property of Manchester City's left-back Ben Thatcher last night, following a brutal 48th-minute challenge that left Pedro Mendes unconscious. The Portsmouth midfielder required oxygen as he was carried off to hospital, with his manager Harry Redknapp revealing: "He also suffered a bit of a seizure. I could see that coming five seconds before it happened. It was horrendous.
"How wasn't it a red card? Do you have to kill someone to get sent off? Watch it on TV and it's there for all to see."
The referee, Dermot Gallagher, brandished only a yellow card following the flashpoint of a poor game that leaves City winless and their opponents unbeaten and unbreached.
Mendes, who scored the dramatic last-minute goal at home to City last March that launched Portsmouth's remarkable surge to safety, lay motionless by the perimeter boards for several minutes and was attended by half a dozen medical staff.
City's manager, Stuart Pearce, had no thoughts about disciplining his player and said: "That will come from elsewhere, but I hope it was accidental. Ben was racing at 110 miles per hour and mistimed his tackle."
The former Champions' League winner was detained in hospital, but was reported by his manager to be improving after Pompey comfortably registered a second clean sheet.
They had to withstand early pressure, although an off-target shot by Joey Barton was the only serious threat until Darius Vassell clipped a clear opening wide in the second half.
The two teams were on opposite ends of 3-0 scorelines at the weekend and it was Portsmouth who created the better openings.
"It was a scrap," Redknapp added. "We can keep the ball better than that."
Manchester City (4-3-3): Weaver; Richards, Dunne, Distin, Thatcher; Sinclair, Barton, Reyna (Ireland, 66); Vassell, Dickov, Samarras (Miller, 72). Substitutes not used: Hart (gk), Dabo, Mills.
Portsmouth (4-4-2): James; Johnson, Primus, Campbell, Stefanovic; O'Neil, Davis, Mendes (Hughes, 52), Taylor; Kanu, Benjani (Todorov, 65). Substitutes not used: Jordan (gk), Thompson, Pamarot.
Referee: D Gallagher (Banbury).Reuse content