Yakubu hat-trick seals Pompey win as Fulham fight back in vain

Portsmouth 4 - Fulham 3
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The Independent Football

This was a match that will live long in the memory. It was dramatic from start to finish. Portsmouth were 3-0 up after 26 minutes but Fulham battled back in a match that could have gone either way. In the end it was a hat-trick from Portsmouth's electric striker Yakubu Aiyegbeni that won the day for Pompey.

This was a match that will live long in the memory. It was dramatic from start to finish. Portsmouth were 3-0 up after 26 minutes but Fulham battled back in a match that could have gone either way. In the end it was a hat-trick from Portsmouth's electric striker Yakubu Aiyegbeni that won the day for Pompey.

"It was a terrific game," said the Portsmouth manager, Harry Redknapp. "Even when we were 3-0 up, I knew the game was not over. Maybe some of the defending was poor at times, but it was certainly great entertainment."

Fulham's Chris Coleman, who had threatened to drop his entire team after last week's defeat, said: "We were so tight last season, but now some cracks seem to be appearing. When we had the ball we were excellent but whenever Portsmouth got it they looked like scoring."

Fulham's hapless defence was torn to shreds by the pace of Yakubu and new signing Ricardo Fuller, and their sluggish players resembled passengers on a suburban platform watching the blur of a high-speed train hurtling past.

Yakubu, in particular, was up for this one. Fulham had already been alerted by several Yakubu bursts, when they cracked for the first time in the 19th minute. Yakubu sped down the left and put in a shot which the harassed defence failed to clear and Eyal Berkovic smashed the loose ball low into the bottom corner, before dancing a jig of delight.

Fulham, who had been flooding men forward with an almost reckless abandon earlier, burst straight on to the attack, and Hislop had to be alert to block at the feet of Tomasz Radzinski. But three minutes later, Fulham were in disarray when Fuller tied the defence in knots before being brought down in the penalty area by Luis Boa Morte. Yakubu took the kick and, almost with a swagger, hit it high into the net.

Again, straight from the kick-off, Fulham streamed on to the attack. Again the Pompey defence was in dozy dreamland as Radzinski was left in the clear, only to be denied yet again by the superb Hislop.

Six minutes later, Yakubu struck again. The Nigerian went past Zat Knight as if he were not there and fired a cross-shot into the far corner.

Fulham pulled a goal back in the 39th minute with a header by Andy Cole, and before Pompey had time to get nervous about that, their suddenly scattered defence was breached again, Boa Morte firing home with ease after being set up by Claus Jensen.

That was 3-2, and you might have thought it could not get much crazier. Wrong. The hot-tempered match several times threatened to boil over as tempers became frayed, and the atmosphere was heated further when Fulham's Moritz Volz accidentally fell into the crowd under a challenge from Fuller, injuring a spectator with his studs. Volz appeared to be jostled by Portsmouth fans as the fan was taken away on a stretcher.

Fulham almost equalised when Cole's close-range header looked set for the top corner, until Hislop produced a one-handed save to turn the ball over the bar. Yakubu struck again in the 72nd minute from a Berkovic pass, but still it wasn't over, with Carlos Bocanegra's header from Boa Morte's free-kick making it 4-3 up a nerve-tingling finale.

Portsmouth (4-4-2): Hislop; Primus, De Zeeuw, Stefanovic, Unsworth; Stone, Quashie, Berkovic (LuaLua, 79), Berger; Fuller, Yakubu (Taylor, 86). Substitutes not used: Ashdown (gk), Griffin, O'Neil.

Fulham (4-1-3-2): Van der Sar; Volz, Knight, Goma, Bocanegra; Diop; Legwinski, Jensen, Boa Morte; Radzinski (John, 58), Cole. Substitutes not used: Crossley (gk), Pembridge, McBride, McKinlay.

Referee: B Knight (Kent).

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