Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

Ballack in the dock after Chelsea coast

Portsmouth 0 Chelsea 4

Passions are usually fiery down at Fratton Park and it was the same last night with Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp accusing Michael Ballack of "diving" for a penalty to give Chelsea the lead in a League Cup tie which ended in humiliation for the home side. "It was never a penalty," Redknapp complained. "He left his leg in and dived."

His sense of injustice stretched to some "joke" defending from his team which led to another of Chelsea's goals – he didn't name names but it was clearly a reference to a goalkeeping howler by David James – but it was Ballack's antics which provoked his anger. Maybe it was a smokescreen. Redknapp's complaints stretched to being down to the proverbial "bare bones" – and he is shorn of a first-choice midfield right now – but Portsmouth were, indeed, "bashed up" by a Chelsea side which oozed style and confidence.



They have somewhat appropriated headlines in this competition in recent years – from Jose Mourinho's shush gestures and then defiant salutes towards Roman Abramovich as he twice won the trophy, to Avram Grant's clueless head-scratching as he lost it last season – but all Luiz Felipe Scolari's 2008-09 version delivered was an emphatic message of superiority. The manager barely stirred himself although his players were stirring enough.



Redknapp's side are listing like a holed liner. They sank. And, in doing so, they stank. Ten goals conceded in two games without reply and an aggregate of 8-0 against Chelsea in two contests this season.



The goals came thick and fast either side of half-time. First Ballack burst onto a cut-back by Salomon Kalou to fall under Nadir Belhadj's challenge. Frank Lampard drilled the penalty low into the corner of the net.



Kalou was provider for the second, laying a simple pass in for Florent Malouda to drive a vicious shot beyond James. Chelsea's next goal was soft. A centre by Kalou was too close to the goalkeeper only for James to push it out – and straight into Lampard. The ball struck the midfielder on the thigh, just a yard out, and trickled over the line.



Portsmouth were torn apart once more when Sylvain Distin dallied in possession, Kalou stole the ball and, again, James was beaten with a low, angled shot at his near post. "Scandalous," said Redknapp. "People made mistakes who don't normally make them."



Portsmouth (4-1-4-1): James; Johnson, Pamarot, Distin, Hreidarsson; Kaboul; Utaka, Mvuemba, Hughes (Wilson, 80), Belhadj (A Traoré, 69); Crouch (Kanu, 69). Substitutes not used: Ashdown (gk), Defoe, D Traoré, Little.



Chelsea (4-1-4-1): Cech; Ivanovic, Terry, Alex, Bridge; Belletti; Kalou, Ballack (Ferreira, 69), Lampard (Sinclair, 74), Malouda; Drogba (Di Santo, 79). Substitutes not used: Cudicini (gk), Mikel, Mancienne, Stoch.



Referee: S Bennett (Kent).



*Chelsea manager Luiz Felipe Scolari has bolstered his squad by signing the 33-year-old Brazilian midfielder Mineiro until the end of the season.