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."

peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
Highs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
New Articles
i100... with this review
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
Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam