Portsmouth 3 Blackburn Rovers 0: Kanu shines in the new world

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The Independent Football

If Harry Redknapp is successful in his pursuit of further experienced players to strengthen his squad, Portsmouth could enjoy a season to remember in the higher reaches of the Premiership. Kanu, signed only on Friday, came on as a second-half substitute, scored twice and only missed out on a hat-trick by having a late penalty saved as visitors Blackburn finished with nine men, Lucas Neil and Andy Todd both seeing red.

It is always good drama at this creaking and decrepit theatre and this proved it yet again.

Redknapp's rebuilt team, packed with big-name signings and roared on by a deafening full house attendance, ushered in a new era of optimism with a crushing triumph against a team with Uefa Cup ambitions. The result was not at all flattering.

"It could not have gone much better," Redknapp said. "All the new boys played well and did their jobs, but it is one result so I am not getting carried away. Kanu is a fantastic free transfer signing and the others are going to give us so much more experience, but I still think the squad lacks depth. We need some more signings."

After a quiet opening period, Svetoslav Todorov put Pompey ahead with a neat close-range finish from Benjani Mwaruwari's cross. Filled with belief, inspired by Sol Campbell's solidity at the back on his debut and David James' confidence in goal, Pompey then took control.

Kanu, who came on for Todorov after 59 minutes, headed in a Sean Davis cross with his first touch just three minutes later and completed the scoring with six minutes remaining with another header, this time from a Gary O'Neil cross.

He might have scored a third when he ran through and was brought down by Todd. The Blackburn captain was sent off for the foul, joining Neill, dismissed for two yellow card offences, in the dressing room. Kanu took the spot-kick, Brad Friedal dived to his right to parry his shot and the Nigerian then headed the rebound wide.

Last season, Portsmouth collected only one point from the first 12 on offer and gained just one win in their opening 10 games. Now, even if briefly, they are top of the league and Redknapp is having to play down expectations while his Blackburn counterpart, Mark Hughes, was left disappointed and frustrated that his side, good enough to finish sixth last season, was beaten so easily and emphatically. He confirmed, however, that Blackburn would be asking referee Alan Wiley to review his decision to dismiss Todd.

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