Date: 18th September 2008 at 10:39pm
Written by:

Pompey got off to the best possible start in their maiden European adventure, goals from Diarra and Defoe sealed a comfortable win against the Portugese side.

Harry Redknapp went for the same 11 who finished strongly against Middlesborough on Saturday, Utaka shaking off his knee injury to take his place on the flank.
Pompey started with a purpose at a rocking Fratton park, the passing was crisp and the movement good. Belhadj and Traore showed again why our left flank looks to have enough about it to scare even the biggest teams, their pace and constant over-lapping was frightening, Diarra bossed midfield with his eager right-hand man Davis, and Defoe was his waspish self up front.

Nilson was the main man for Guimaraes though, he pulled off 2 cracking saves from Defoe, 1 where he deflected over the bar when Defoe looked odds on, and another when Defoe twisted into a shooting position only to find Nilson there to smuggle his shot away. Diarra should be called ‘Dijon’ because he is both French and mustard, he burst through 2 tackles and then played a lovely one-two with Defoe to burst the net and give Pompey a well deserved and somewhat overdue lead.
Everything was going to plan, then the German ref, Mr P Knut decided Campbell was impeding and awarded a soft penalty to get the Portugese back in. Up stepped number 17 (can’t remember his name) the bar was rattled and the ball nestled somewhere nicely next to John Westwood at the back of the stand, bonus.

The second half followed much the same pattern as the first, Guimaraes were technically sounded but lacked a cutting edge, while Pompey played with verve and gained a spot-kick of their own when Defoe went down in the box. Jermain man stepped up himself and watched the outstand Nilson parry his effort to safety, nerves jangled again.
Traore then displayed a lung bursting effort to run the length of the pitch to plant a cross right on Crouch’s button, but Nilson again denied the blues.
One goal looked a fragile lead to take over in two weeks time, so not to be outdown by his left-sided partner, Belhadj slinked down the wing and crossed for Defoe to volley home and give us a lovely two goal cushion.
Guimaraes knew they needed something and resorted to long shots that James fielded rather than saved, Pompey threatened on the counter attack but 2 was our limit for the night.

Player Ratings

James
Never seriously tested, Englands number 1

Johnson
Didn’t get forward as much as usual but was sound defensively. Should be a England regular

Belhadj
Fleet of foot with a formula 1 engine, should be playing for England.

Campbell
Dominant in the air and covered well on the deck, should be playing for England

Distin
Class in sixt foot of skin, should be playing for England

Diarra
Dijon is a star, should be captaining England.

Davis
Pompeys Land-rover to Diarras roller, should be playing for England

Traore
Gives credit to the Traore name after Djimi, a constant threat, should be playing for England.

Defoe
Penalty miss but a goal all the same, should be playing for England.

Crouch
Ref loved him, every time he touched the ball it made the ref so happy he blew his whistle with joy, should be playing for England.

Utaka
Showed a couple of glimpses of form, but needs to burst past defenders more often, should be playing for England.

Diop
The wardrobe ws let out of the bedroom for 15 mins, should be playing for England.

Manager Rating
No qualms with Harry, a win on our first Euro venture is tantamount to that.