Redknapp return pains Pompey
Tottenham Hotspur manager Harry Redknapp made a triumphant return to Fratton Park, but Jermain Defoe was sent off for a stamp in the victory against Portsmouth. After leaving Pompey nearly a year ago, Redknapp eventually took Defoe, Peter Crouch and Niko Kranjcar with him - and almost inevitably Defoe got on the scoresheet after Ledley King had broken the deadlock. Defoe getting sent off, however, was not in the script and it set up a thrilling finale after Kevin-Prince Boateng had pulled a goal back, although Pompey had Michael Brown dismissed late on.
Pompey were FA Cup holders and looking healthy in the league when Redknapp left, but his Spurs team took advantage of the problems that Tony Adams and Paul Hart have faced since, namely a lack of quality due to players being sold. The hosts should have taken the lead when Aruna Dindane was presented with an open goal, but Spurs managed to stay on level terms and pick Hart's men off with simple goals to give themselves a two-goal lead before the interval.
Redknapp's arrival at the dug-out was fairly understated. Flanked by one steward, he applauded the fans and took his seat. In the Portsmouth ranks Younes Kaboul, Boateng and Brown were the former Spurs players, while Jamie O'Hara was ineligible due to the terms of his loan.
Defoe showed there was no love lost when he crashed into Boateng in the opening minute. Defoe had missed England duty with a hand injury and appeared determined to make up for lost time. He went on an early run and forced David James into a save with low drive, then after nine minutes he raced onto Tom Huddlestone's through ball and smacked the near post.
Pompey's threat came through Boateng. His corner led to Aaron Mokoena glancing a header wide, then he had a go himself from the halfway line and cleared Heurelho Gomes' crossbar. After 12 minutes came the moment that will haunt Dindane. Tommy Smith's precise cross cut through the Spurs defence and Gomes, but Dindane hacked over from inside the six-yard box.
It was a huge let-off for the visitors. Gomes then ensured the scores stayed level when he pulled off a stunning save from Kaboul's free-kick. Kaboul's drive flicked off Smith to wrong-foot Gomes, but the Brazilian re-adjusted and clawed the effort over the crossbar.
Despite Pompey's pressure and chances, Spurs were ahead just before the half-hour mark. Kranjcar swung over a corner from the right and King, just back from a hamstring injury, climbed above Mokoena and Kaboul, with his headed finish taking advantage of indecision from James. The second goal came on the stroke of half-time. Jermaine Jenas exchanged passes with Huddlestone and crossed for Defoe to tap home his tenth of the season for club and country.
Pompey attempted to find a way back into the game and felt they could have been awarded a penalty when Vedran Corluka appeared to handle in the penalty area following a mix-up with Gomes, but referee Phil Dowd waved play on. Mokoena, who was booked for a foul on Jenas, also tried his luck from long range, but went wide with his powerful effort, while Smith forced another fine save from Gomes with a lob.
Crouch was the next to receive the jeers from home supporters when he came on for Robbie Keane, but the Pompey fans then had something to cheer about when Boateng pulled a goal back. Steve Finnan's cross found Boateng unmarked at the far post and Boateng lashed into the near post.
Pompey were given real hope when Defoe was given a straight red for a stamp on Mokoena. Gomes, comfortably Spurs' man of the match, kept his side ahead with a stunning save to deny Hassan Yebda towards the end and Frederic Piquionne flashed a header across the face of goal. Brown was dismissed, for two bookings, in stoppage-time.