Mixed messages for Defoe and Dindane

Portsmouth 1 Tottenham Hotspur 2
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The Independent Football

The centre-forward who scored received a severe ticking-off, the one who missed a pair of sitters found a sympathetic arm round his shoulders, and "Judas" experienced little more intimidating than a request for his autograph.

It was an afternoon of surprises at Fratton Park, except for the scoreline. Portsmouth are not as poor a side as the standings suggest and with better finishing they would have secured a deserved draw. This is a team that has scored five goals in nine games, six of which they have lost by one goal. The margins may be small, as manager Paul Hart reflected later, but they still need a goalscorer to bridge them.

Saturday's culprit was Aruna Dindane. Yet to score in the league since his arrival from Lens, he missed from five yards at 0-0, and from a similar range at 0-2. "He was distraught," Hart said. "He's a great lad, and he will score goals. He's getting fitter and stronger. He caused them an awful lot of problems."

Harry Redknapp was less complimentary about Jermain Defoe, even though he took his season's tally to 10 for club and country with what proved Saturday's winner.

Defoe, who endured the most abuse of any of those returning, was sent off for stamping on Aaron Mokoena. His dismissal, shortly after Kevin-Prince Boateng had halved the deficit, put Spurs' victory in jeopardy. "The occasion got the better of him," admitted Redknapp. "He could have cost us the game. I gave him a bollocking in front of all the lads. He can get a bit wound-up and has to learn to curb that."

Indeed he has. The last thing Fabio Capello needs at the World Cup is two strikers with hair-trigger tempers and if he has to choose one Wayne Rooney will get the nod. Mokoena, who laughably grabbed his knee in pain though Defoe trod on his calf, said: "Jermain has a bright future in the England squad, but doing what he did today is embarrassing. It was a cheap shot. You can't do that in this league. It's just crazy."

With Chelsea beaten, Tottenham moved within three points of the top of the League and Ledley King, their captain and scorer of their opening goal, said: "It's a result that in previous years we probably wouldn't have got. There is more steel in the squad this season, our record away from home shows we have improved in that department and I think that will be the difference between us being able to push into the top four or not."

Portsmouth (4-3-1-2): James; Finnan (Utaka, 89), Kaboul, Wilson, Ben-Haim; Yebda, Mokoena (Belhadj, 77), Brown; Boateng; Smith (Piquionne, 63), Dindane. Substitutes not used: Ashdown (gk), Mullins, Williamson, Webber.

Tottenham Hotspur (4-3-2-1): Gomes; Corluka, King, Bassong, Assou-Ekotto; Lennon, Jenas, Huddlestone (Dawson, 86); Kranjcar (Palacios, 65), Defoe; Keane (Crouch, 55). Substitutes not used: Cudicini (gk), Bentley, Hutton, Pavlyuchenko.

Referee: P Dowd (Staffordshire).

Booked: Portsmouth Mokoena, Yebda, Brown. Tottenham: Jenas, Palacios, Assou-Ekotto.

Sent off: Defoe (60); Brown (90).

Man of the match: Gomes.

Attendance: 20, 821.