Robinho was hauled off as Manchester City's wretched form on the road continued with a 2-0 defeat at manager-less Premier League strugglers Portsmouth. The Brazilian superstar was substituted 25 minutes from time after producing another poor away performance, as City slumped to the seventh league loss of the season on their travels. Second-half goals from Glen Johnson and Hermann Hreidarsson did the damage to heap more pressure on City manager Mark Hughes and give Pompey's own survival hopes a major boost, on a day when goalkeeper David James set a new record of 536 Premier League appearances.
City, one of the England goalkeeper's former clubs, were depleted by the loss of Shaun Wright-Phillips and Richard Dunne through suspension, while Micah Richards was forced to withdraw because of an ankle injury. Rookie Irish defender Shaleum Logan was handed a Premier League debut in place of Richards.
Portsmouth, who had Paul Hart and former Manchester United number two Brian Kidd in caretaker charge, were clearly eager to impress any prospective new manager following Tony Adams' sacking and would have been 2-0 up at half time, but for David Nugent's blunder. Nugent should have put Pompey into the lead in the tenth minute when he raced onto Niko Kranjcar's lofted through-ball, but a heavy first touch forced him wide and the former England international could only shoot into Shay Given's side netting.
In September, City hammered Portsmouth 6-0 in the reverse fixture, but it took until the 23rd minute for Hughes' side to register their first shot in anger when Brazilian midfielder Elano put a 25-yard curler high into the stands behind James's goal. Nugent is in the best form of his Portsmouth career, but passed up another glorious opportunity 17 minutes before half-time. Johnson got the better of England teammate Wayne Bridge down the right wing before delivering a teasing centre, only for Nugent to place a free header two yards wide, after being left completely unmarked at Given's back post.
Portsmouth continued to dictate proceedings after half-time and Nugent completed a hat-trick of wasted chances in the 55th minute when he was set free down the right by Kranjcar's threaded pass. Nedum Onuoha did well to force Nugent wide, but the £6 million former Preston star should have done better than rolling the ball harmlessly past Given's right hand post, after electing to shoot across goal.
City were almost caught on the break during a rare foray into the Portsmouth penalty area as James's long throw set Peter Crouch away down the left and only a last-ditch block by Onuoha diverted the former Liverpool striker's goal-bound shot behind for a corner. Nugent, who was having one of those afternoons where nothing would go his way, headed wide from Pennant's corner mid-way through the half.
But Portsmouth finally got the goal they deserved in the 70th minute, when Glen Johnson took advantage of more woeful City defending. The England defender was left free to cut in from the right touchline before having a powerful 12-yard shot beaten away by Given. City's defenders stood and watched as Johnson hammered the rebound past the grounded Given and into the roof of the net. Hreidarsson put the game out of City's reach 15 minutes later by climbing to plant a bullet header from Pennant's right wing corner into the top right corner.
James's fine flying save from substitute Ched Evans' 80th-minute header ensured his milestone appearance was marked with a clean sheet. City were booed off by their travelling supporters at the final whistle and the defeat would have been even more resounding, but for Logan's goalline clearance to deny Johnson a second goal in the final minute.