Yebda's diving header is on the money for Portsmouth

Wolverhampton Wanderers 0 Portsmouth 1
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The Independent Online

Premier League points can be like that. You wait ages for one, then along come three at once. Portsmouth remain a club in crisis but at least there is no longer a zero against their name.

A header by Hassan Yebda at the height of their first-half dominance broke their duck and had the beleaguered Paul Hart celebrating, arms aloft, towards the directors' box at the end. What the recipients of the manager's joyous gesture may not have appreciated so much was the sight of four players throwing their shirts to supporters. If you can't afford to pay the wages...

"They will be paid on Monday," Hart said, "and I wouldn't expect the problems to recur. Over the next few days, we will have new investment and this club will have some good news. The players have been tremendous. They have had everything thrown at them, stayed strong and haven't wavered. It's a great win."

Sulaiman Al-Fahim, the club's owner, is in hospital in Dubai after surgery for kidney stones but help appears to be at hand from the Peter Storrie-led consortium, the group defeated in the takeover battle.

On the field, Wolves are not in great shape either. Portsmouth's first away League victory in 17 attempts since November has the home team looking anxiously downwards. Pompey, who had to hang on at the end, fashioned the win in an opening half in which the gap between the sides should have been wider than the 1-0 deficit Wolves have now had to face six times in the League this season.

Wolves appeared taken aback by the urgency shown by the division's bottom club, with Kevin-Prince Boateng to the fore. He had an early shot on the turn pushed wide by Wayne Hennessey and sent a fierce left-foot shot from 25 yards scorching over. But it was as creator that he made a more telling, 19th-minute impact after Yebda had seen a close-range shot cleared off the line by Matt Jarvis. Boateng crossed from the right after a corner by Jamie O'Hara corner was partially cleared and Yebda, a French-Algerian making his first Premier League start of a season-long loan from Benfica, dived in the six-yard area to bury a header in the bottom corner.

Portsmouth had not scored in 10 of their previous 13 League matches and now they wanted more goals. Tommy Smith set up Aruna Dindane for a shot that drew an outstanding low save from Hennessey and had Yebda not headed wide when fed by Smith, the game might not have had a tight finish.

Steve Finnan, belatedly making his debut after a hamstring tear, was impressive, blocking from Christophe Berra. Tal Ben-Haim followed that by charging down a Kevin Doyle effort on the stroke of half-time.

Wolves were much improved after the half-time introduction of Michael Kightly and Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, but took time to make headway. Greg Halford curled a free-kick wide before, two minutes from time, flicking up another played back by Karl Henry and producing a volley that David James saved superbly. From the rebound, Ebanks-Blake blazed over from close in, at an angle.

That confirmed it as Pompey's day after eight successive League defeats, including the seven that made this the worst ever start to a Premier League season.

"We had a number of opportunities but Portsmouth did the basics and we didn't," Mick McCarthy, Wolves' manager, said.

Attendance: 29,023

Referee: Howard Webb

Man of the match: Boateng

Match rating: 7/10

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