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Defoe makes England case by shooting down Everton

SoccerNews in English Premier League 30 Aug 2008

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Jermain Defoe staked his claim for an England starting spot in next month's World Cup qualifiers with an impressive two-goal display in Portsmouth's 3-0 win at Everton on Saturday.

Defoe, vying for a place in Fabio Capello's team for the looming clashes against Andorra and Croatia, played a starring role as the FA Cup winners claimed their first victory of the season at Goodison Park.

A Glen Johnson goal, plus a penalty save by David James from Ayegbeni Yakubu, ensured that Harry Redknapp's team ended their six-game Premier League losing streak against David Moyes's struggling outfit.

Both teams went into this game knowing that they were one defeat away from becoming a 'club-in-crisis' ahead of the two-week international break.

Pompey arrived on Merseyside on the back of a miserable run, while Everton were in equal need of the three points having lost at home to Blackburn on the opening day of the season.

Another defeat for either team would set alarm bells ringing and Portsmouth's problems appeared to run deeper than Everton's on the evidence of Monday's Fratton Park loss against Manchester United.

Although the champions ultimately left with a narrow 1-0 win, Sir Alex Ferguson's men dominated and Portsmouth's strike-force of Defoe and Peter Crouch looked worryingly incompatible.

Redknapp has dispensed with a successful lone striker system to accommodate the two England forwards and the jury is still out as to whether it will actually pay off.

But the pair at least showed glimpses of a potentially profitable partnership as they tormented Everton's back four in the first-half.

Crouch's height has always proved a problem for opposing defenders and both Joseph Yobo and Joleon Lescott struggled to contain the former Liverpool hitman.

And Defoe's ability inside the penalty area has never been in doubt and the striker showed Everton exactly what he is about with his 12th minute opener.

Crouch did well to head a long-ball down to Defoe inside the 18-yard box and the former Spurs forward turned sharply on the penalty spot before prodding the ball past keeper Tim Howard for the opener.

The home side failed to learn their lesson, however, and Defoe went close to scoring a second from an almost identical position five minutes later.

Once again, Crouch played his part with flick inside the penalty area and Defoe pounced on the loose ball before firing a shot goalwards that was well saved by Howard.

The near miss injected urgency into Everton, though, and David Moyes's team twice went close to equalising when David James twice saved from Mikel Arteta before Younes Kaboul cleared off the line from Yakubu.

Everton's dominance came to a shuddering halt five minutes before half-time, however, when Johnson doubled Portsmouth's lead after working a neat one-two with Defoe inside the penalty area.

And although Yakubu had the chance to throw Everton a lifeline from the penalty spot on 46 minutes, the Nigerian blew his chance by allowing James to save his spot-kick.

From that moment on, the home side looked unlikely to salvage anything from the game and Defoe's second, when he chipped Howard from 20 yards, gave Pompey a deserved win.

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