Portsmouth 2 Everton 0: Taylor's bolt from the blue stuns Everton

Portsmouth profit from a goal of season contender

On another day, people would have been raving about the first-time shot with which Nwankwo Kanu set the seal on a sixth home win of the season. As it was, the Nigerian's sweetly controlled finish merited only a footnote. This was a game in which one kick outshone every other like a lighthouse amid a swarm of fireflies, as Everton rode into the volley of death.

For 14 minutes things had meandered gently along, Portsmouth on top without looking especially threatening, and then, from nowhere, came a moment of inexplicable brilliance. Matthew Taylor is a tidy enough player, but he is no Ronaldinho - given he is a converted full-back, it would be hard even to argue he is a Nayim - but when the ball popped out of a challenge between Simon Davies and Kanu and dropped invitingly for him 45 yards from goal, he took a swing.

Even for a player emboldened by two goals against Aston Villa last week it was audacious, but the pureness of the strike was clear from the moment it left his boot. Freakish, yes; lucky no. Tim Howard was not badly positioned, but he could only gaze in wonder as it looped over his head and into the net. "That was some strike," said the Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp, who, on the first anniversary of his return to Fratton Park, was in particularly jolly mood. "He's always smacking balls at goal in training. He can certainly whack it a long way."

Howard was just as helpless 12 minutes later as Kanu peeled unmarked to the back of the box, and swept Gary O'Neil's right-wing cross low into the corner. "A great finish," Redknapp enthused. The extraordinary nature of the goals, though, is no excuse for Everton; this was a game in which they were second best from start to finish. Without Mikel Arteta, Gary Cahill, Leon Osman and Phil Neville because of injury, they were forced to deploy both Nuno Valente and Alan Stubbs in midfield at various times yesterday, and paid the price with a dearth of creativity.

Perhaps as a consequence, Andy Johnson and James Beattie both looked out of sorts. Beattie stabbed ineffectually at a Joleon Lescott nod-down with the score at 1-0, his fluff still drawing a fine save from David James, but once that chance had been spurned Everton never looked like getting back in the game. "In the first half we were rubbish," the Everton manager David Moyes said. "In the second half at least we put our names to it and had a couple of half-chances."

By then, though, the game was long gone. The only negative for Portsmouth was the loss of Benjani to a hamstring injury in the second half in an incident that proved that whatever Taylor's other gifts, he is no physician. The Zimbabwean suffered the strain in the first half and battled on, only to succumb to the problem 17 minutes after the break, a situation that was not helped by Taylor's belief he had cramp. "Benji's lying there screaming," Redknapp said, "and Matty's gone and made it worse."

With Andy Cole and Lomana LuaLua out, that could cause problems over the next few weeks, but for now Portsmouth are simply revelling in the dizzy heights of third. "I don't think anybody thought we'd be there," Redknapp said. "I think we should be all right this year."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent