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Defoe ends Pompey home drought with late double

SoccerNews in English Premier League 13 Sep 2008

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Jermain Defoe snatched a late winner to fire Portsmouth to a 2-1 victory against Middlesbrough at Fratton Park on Saturday.

England forward Defoe scored two second-half goals to complete an impressive fightback after in-form striker Mido had given Middlesbrough the lead.

Pompey's fightback catapulted Harry Redknapp's team seven places up the Premier League table to ninth.

Middlesbrough came into the game oozing confidence after their impressive start to the season, while Portsmouth were looking to register their first home win in six months.

It took only four minutes for the visitors to carve out a glorious opportunity as a Didier Digard cross evaded Sol Campbell, but Brazil striker Afonso Alves fluffed his shot with the goal gaping.

In contrast, Redknapp has seen his players endure a tough start to the campaign but they didn't appear to be affected, playing their own part in a vibrant opening to the game.

England striker Peter Crouch was causing the visiting defenders plenty of problems with his height and touch while international team-mate Defoe was probing with his movement and pace.

Stand-in goalkeeper Ross Turnbull made a smart save to deny Defoe and kept the visitors on terms.

Pompey were beginning to look the more threatening as their passing settled down, so it was slightly against the run of play when Mido fired the visitors into a 24th minute lead.

Former Heerenveen striker Alves capitalised on a mix-up between defenders Younes Kaboul and Arnold Mvuemba to put Mido in the clear.

The former Tottenham man kept a cool head and finished neatly to claim his third goal in four Premier League games.

The goal appeared to take the wind out of the home team's sails as they laboured to get themselves back on terms, often stringing together good passing moves but failing with the final ball.

When eventually Lassana Diarra did put a good cross into the penalty area Turnbull managed to clear at full stretch as Crouch and Senegal midfielder Papa Bouba-Diop lurked menacingly.

Redknapp took action at half-time to turn the course of the game, bringing on Nadir Belhadj and Nigeria winger John Utaka for Kaboul and Diop.

The change had the desired effect as immediately the home team started to apply pressure.

Diminuitive striker Defoe won a free-kick in a dangerous area but his scuffed effort caught the wall and midfielder Sean Davis failed to convert the ricochet.

Eventually, Defoe converted the pressure into a goal as Pompey ended a drought of four home games without a goal.

Lanky forward Crouch supplied an inviting pass into the penalty area which Defoe struck early to beat Turnbull at his near post to claim his 100th league goal.

The livewire striker was wreaking havock in the 'Boro box and came agonisingly close to giving his team the lead but somehow his cross-shot dribbled wide of the post after hitting defender Justin Hoyte.

Man of the match Defoe finally broke the visitor's resistance in the 86th minute, collecting a Glenn Johnson flick-on before turning and hooking home to seal a win which the home fans hope will kick-start their stuttering season.

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