Portsmouth reach FA Cup final, Redknapp delighted

April 6th, 2008 - 12:09 pm ICT by admin  

London, April 6 (DPA) Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp called it a “great day for the club” as they edged out West Bromwich Albion 1-0 in the first FA Cup semi-final at Wembley. Nwankwo Kanu scored the only goal of the game in the 54th minute against his former club to send Portsmouth through to their first final since 1939, against Cardiff City or Barnsley, who play Sunday.

“It’s fantastic to be going to a cup final. Full credit to West Brom, they made a game of it but it’s a great day for the club. It’s great for the support; I’m delighted for everybody,” Redknapp said after Saturday’s match.

“We didn’t pass the ball as we can and they passed it better than us for long spells, they are a good team and I think they’ll come up this year.”

Indeed, Portsmouth will count themselves hugely lucky to have made it through after they turned in a nervy, mistake-ridden performance and were outplayed for long periods.

As the lone remaining Premier League side, Portsmouth should have gone into the match full of confidence. However, they were anything but in a woeful first-half performance and West Brom had chances to take the lead.

David James made a couple of mistakes in the Portsmouth goal and got away with them, with one Zoltan Gera shot causing him all sorts of problems.

At the other end, Milan Baros, who was brought into the starting line-up in place of the cup-tied Jermain Defoe, made a couple of runs but the end product was always lacking.

To their credit, Portsmouth came out after the half-time interval at least a little more composed and they took the vital lead eight minutes into the second half.

A ball from Glen Johnson was controlled by Baros on his chest — despite shouts of hand-ball — and forced a superb save out of Dean Kiely, but Gera fluffed his clearance and the ball ran to Kanu, who tapped in for the only goal of the game.

Baros should have put the game beyond reach about 20 minutes from the end when after great work from Nico Kranjcar, the Czech Republic striker was clear on goal but he took an extra touch and Kiely saved bravely.

Sulley Muntari fired a great chance wide on 76 minutes but West Brom were desperately unlucky not to level when Robert Koren’s excellent shot from just outside the box beat the diving David James only to cannon off the crossbar and away for a goal kick.

West Brom continued to pour forward in search of an equaliser to force extra time but they could not create a truly clear-cut chance.

At the other end, substitute David Nugent fired over well into injury time, but time ran out on the championship side and Portsmouth hung on to reach the final.

West Brom manager Tony Mowbray said he had no complaints about the result.

“They are defensively a very well set-up team and the experience they have at the back is invaluable to them,” he said.

“They are an exceptional team. We found it hard to break through today - the frustration is that we didn’t threaten their goal enough today. It wasn’t happening for us today. Our priority now is the league - we have six very important league fixtures to play and we will try to ply our trade in the Premier League next year.”

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