Portsmouth 2 Aston Villa 2: Angel swoops in to deny Pompey a Taylor-made victory
Sunday 03 December 2006
Juan Pablo Angel scored just two minutes after coming on to earn draw specialists Aston Villa a point at Fratton Park.
Gareth Barry put Villa in front from the penalty spot but Matthew Taylor struck twice in the second half - the second also a penalty - to put the home side in front. But Angel's deflected effort on 81 minutes gave Martin O'Neill's side their sixth draw away from home in eight matches. Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp was able to recall fit-again Glen Johnson after the on-loan Chelsea full-back recovered from the thigh injury which has ruled him out for the last month.
Redknapp made three other changes to the team which drew 0-0 at Anfield in midweek, with Manuel Fernandes replaced Richard Hughes, while Lomana LuaLua and top scorer Kanu were preferred up front to Benjani Mwaruwari and Croatian playmaker Niko Kranjcar, who dropped to the bench. O'Neill dropped Dutchman Wilfred Bouma and Juan Pablo Angel from the team that lost against Manchester City with Steven Davis and teenager Isaiah Osbourne replacing them. Ridgewell fouled Kanu on the edge of the penalty area and Fernandes' curling free-kick was deflected on to Gary O'Neil, who headed on to the Nigerian striker. But as Kanu turned sharply he failed to find the necessary direction to trouble Stuart Taylor. Gavin McCann bodychecked LuaLua to set up another free-kick in a threatening position for Portsmouth. This time Matthew Taylor had an effort from distance which forced Stuart Taylor into a low save diving to his left. Martin O'Neill's men then finally began to find their rhythm and forced Pompey into conceding a flurry of corners but still no opportunities materialised for the midlanders.
Just under 15 minutes from half-time LuaLua's early-season injury jinx continued as he was forced off with an ankle problem and replaced by Benjani. Within moments of the Zimbabwean's introduction a mistake by Glen Johnson saw Villa break the deadlock. A loose pass by the on-loan Chelsea full-back was intercepted by Steven Davis who teed up Gabriel Agbonlahor with a beautifully executed pass. The England under-21 international rounded David James in the Portsmouth goal but had his ankles clipped and referee Uriah Rennie pointed straight to the spot. James was given a yellow card but that was the least of his worries as Gareth Barry stepped up to smash his penalty past the Pompey stopper.
With LuaLua removed and Johnson clearly not fit the home side seemed to lack the necessary pace to disrupt the organised Villa backline, but it was left to the much-maligned Benjani to show them the route to goal. The Zimbabwe international raced to collect a Mendes long ball ahead of Villa defender Cahill and crossed to find Taylor in space inside the area. The Portsmouth midfielder rose superbly to direct a header into the bottom corner and score his first Premiership goal of the season. Not to be outdone, Villa then fashioned two good opportunities of their own. First Ridgewell's deep cross found Baros around the penalty spot but the Czech striker's header was too weak to really trouble James. Mendes then brought down the busy Agbonlahor on the edge of the area. Barry's quickly taken free-kick looked to be heading for the top corner but James reacted quickly to dive across his goal and produce an excellent save. The home side then took the lead just 10 minutes from time as Barry gifted them a penalty.
After conceding a free-kick and being booked by referee Uriah Rennie, the Villa captain inexplicably handled the resultant free-kick and Taylor calmly dispatched the spot-kick into the bottom corner. The lead lasted only two minutes however as substitute Angel - who had only been on the pitch for two minutes - fired in a shot which was deflected off Campbell to wrong-foot James.
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