Belfast Telegraph

Portsmouth live the dream with semi-final win over Tottenham

Tottenham 0 Portsmouth 2 (after extra-time)

Relegated Portsmouth may be in administration but their FA Cup fairytale is alive thanks to Frederic Piquionne and Kevin-Prince Boateng sinking Tottenham at Wembley.

Piquionne struck nine minutes into extra-time in a game few gave them a chance of winning then Boateng scored from the penalty spot, setting up a final against Chelsea next month when manager Avram Grant will face his former club.

"You can break many things but you can't break our spirit," read a banner, quoting the Pompey manager.

It was an emotional victory for the Israeli. He has been restricted by Pompey's financial meltdown and it is still unclear which players will be allowed to play in the final due to bonuses and contract clauses.

Pompey should qualify for the Europa League by reaching the final but they have not applied for a UEFA licence - they are playing purely for the glory and are refusing to go down quietly.

It was also a victory against former Pompey boss Harry Redknapp.

Redknapp facing the club he guided to FA Cup glory in 2008 was not the only case of those involved playing against their former side - ex-Pompey pair Jermain Defoe and Peter Crouch started in attack for Spurs.

Jamie O'Hara did not face his parent club so watched it as a pundit from the television studio - he will be back for the final - but Grant was able to welcome back Boateng, who left White Hart Lane at the start of the season.

Ricardo Rocha and Michael Brown were Pompey's other former Spurs players, while on-loan Lens striker Aruna Dindane played his final game before a payment to the French club is triggered.

Pompey's main concern has been keeping the club afloat, so Dindane was saved for the semi-final, and he had an early sight of goal when Piquionne sent him through but Michael Dawson, who passed a late fitness test on his Achilles, made a last-ditch tackle.

Piquionne also had an early effort with a powerful run and a shot that was deflected before Heurelho Gomes saved.

Spurs' threat came through Defoe, who was back in the starting XI after a hamstring problem. The England striker, jeered by the Pompey fans, stabbed over the bar under the challenge of Aaron Mokoena after Vedran Corluka flicked on David Bentley's corner.

Free-flowing football was made difficult by the surface at Wembley, with the pitch cutting up in areas and players slipping over, in Steve Finnan's case just 12 seconds after kick-off.

Set pieces were an obvious tactic to employ, with Piquionne finding himself unmarked from a corner but failing to get power on his shot. Boateng also fired a free-kick just wide of Gomes' post.

At the other end, David James was called into action when Tom Huddlestone crossed and Crouch climbed above his marker to get a header on target.

The first clear-cut chance came when Hassan Yebda slid Piquionne through and Gomes used his legs to save the Frenchman's finish - Pompey had the better of the first half and they sensed an upset.

Just after the interval, however, Defoe had sight of goal from close range and his finish was bravely blocked by Rocha.

Pompey continued to attack, Dindane scampered past Gareth Bale and his chipped cross found Piquionne with just Gomes to beat but his header went straight at the Brazilian.

Redknapp's response was to bring on Roman Pavlyuchenko for Defoe just before the hour mark, with Pompey fans taunting the striker on his walk to the bench.

That came just before Spurs had a shout for a penalty turned down when the ball struck Finnan's hand.

Crouch had the next chance, heading wide from a Bentley corner after James had flapped at the set piece, then he went over from close range from Bale's cross.

Mokoena had put Crouch off, then the Pompey defender almost scored an own goal when he tried to clear Corluka's cross but he managed to clear off his own line.

In an end-to-end finale to the 90 minutes, Crouch hit the post when he got his head on Bale's deep cross and Corluka had an effort cleared off the line.

Piquionne's goal came nine minutes into extra-time when Marc Wilson's free-kick was met by Boateng. Dawson slipped at the crucial moment and Piquionne tucked his finish away through Gomes' legs.

Crouch hit the post and had a goal disallowed as Pompey held on, with Boateng adding to the scoreline when Wilson Palacios brought down Dindane.

Belfast Telegraph


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