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Portsmouth 1 - 1 Chelsea


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Portsmouth 1 - 1 Chelsea F.C.

Saturday 2 February 2008, Premier League, Matchday 25, Fratton Park, Portsmouth


A debut goal for Jermaine Defoe resulted in dropped points for title-chasers Chelsea for the first time since December.

The former Tottenham striker put a dampener on proceedings late on in a highly enjoyable second half at Fratton Park and could have won the game for his new club in the dying seconds. Nicolas Anelka broke the deadlock with a coolly-taken volleyed effort ten minutes into the second half with his first Premier League goal for the visitors. Shaun Wright-Phillips and Juliano Belletti could have snatched winners late on but a 1-1 result was a fair reflection of a pulse-pounding encounter.

Heading into the game with an incredible record against Portsmouth in the Premier League, Chelsea were looking to return to Stamford Bridge with another three points as the West London outfit continued their dogged pursuit of Arsenal and Manchester United at the summit of the top division. And having won their previous nine games on the bounce, a win would set a new club record for the biggest winning streak in Chelsea's illustrious history.

With the return of Juliano Belletti from suspension, Paulo Ferreira was relegated to the bench along with Wayne Bridge who was dropped in favour of Ashley Cole. Tal Ben Haim deputised for the banned Ricardo Carvalho whilst Claude Makelele continued as captain alongside Michael Ballack and Shaun Wright-Phillips in midfield. Nicolas Anelka spearheaded a three-pronged Chelsea attack which also featured ex-Lyon winger Florent Malouda and England international Joe Cole. Essien, Kalou, Mikel and Didier Drogba were all away in Africa whilst Frank Lampard was not fit enough to feature despite returning to training recently.

Lassana Diarra and Glen Johnson both started against the club they had begun the season with, though Sylvain Distin was out through injury. Portsmouth, along with Chelsea, were arguably the hardest-hit of all the Premier League clubs by the African Nations Cup, with John Utaka, Kanu and Sulley Ali Muntari amongst a number of players on international duty. Benjani, subject to much transfer speculation was not in the sixteen selected by Harry Redknapp, with Defoe and loan striker Milan Baros leading the line against the FA Cup holders.

Despite the excellence of the game's second half, the opening forty five minutes were mainly cagey with both teams reluctant to attack the other. Lassana Diarra was bossing the midfield against his former club and along with Croatian Niko Kranjcar, it was Portsmouth looking to exert the majority of the pressure. The best chance of the opening periods fell to Milan Baros who rocketed over, before Michael Ballack and Florent Malouda lashed efforts horribly wide. The German international, scorer of the winner against Reading in midweek, was finding it difficult to feed the isolated Anelka who was being well marshalled by Hreidarsson.

Drama followed, as Michael Ballack's towering header from a Belletti set-piece was cleared off the line before the Brazilian full-back appeared to handle the ball in his penalty area. Referee Howard Webb deemed it accidental and played continued, much to the disproval of the Portsmouth faithful. The resulting corner saw Noe Pamarot presented with the game's best opportunity so far, as his powerful headed effort crashed off the crossbar with Petr Cech stranded.

Centre-half Tal Ben Haim was performing admirably alongside Alex but both defenders were looking accident prone with the reassurance of John Terry and Ricardo Carvalho. Nevertheless, Milan Baros and Jermaine Defoe were being kept quiet and the Portsmouth attack was limited to opportunist efforts from long range which rarely troubled the Chelsea goalkeeper.

With the whistle ready to be blown, Chelsea launched a final attack of the half. Anelka started it and came to close to finishing it, as his excellent effort was saved brilliantly by David James. Buoyed by a return to the England set-up, James spread himself well to block the Frenchman before Ashley Cole ballooned the rebound over from twelve yards. The ex-Arsenal full back has yet to register a goal since arriving at Stamford Bridge, and it isn't too difficult to realise why.

The second half began as the first had ended, with the fans being treated to end-to-end football. Milan Baros could have netted his first goal for the club after Defoe ghosted into the penalty area, leaving Belletti for dead on the edge of the six yard box. Unable to get his shot away, a fortunate deflection saw the ball fall to the Czech striker who tamely shot at the feet of his fellow countryman Cech, who saved with his legs.

With fifty five minutes played, Anelka made the breakthrough but not before Ashley Cole had another attempt blocked by Hreidarsson. The Iceland international did well to prevent the England full back from scoring after he had combined with Malouda on the wing, before the Frenchman combined with Ashley's namesake for the opener. Crossing from the left, Joe Cole flicked the ball on for Anelka to volley home from seven yards. It was the first time Nicolas' trademark celebration had been seen in a Premier League match since his arrival from Bolton last month.

Portsmouth replied nine minutes later, completely against the run of play. James' long kick up field was flicked on by Baros which deceived the whole of the Chelsea backline, most of all Belletti, who had perilously played on Defoe - and was duly punished. The ex-Tottenham forward raced forward and slotted home under Cech to continue his remarkable record of scoring on his debuts.

He might have won the game late on but Cech made himself big to put Defoe off, whilst James saved well from Belletti at close range. Wright-Phillips flashed wide in the final few minutes and Alex had had his effort saved by the Portsmouth goalkeeper. The draw was a fair one in respect to an enthralling game between two evenly-matched teams.

Match Fact : Chelsea are unbeaten in ten Premier League fixtures against Portsmouth, winning nine and drawing one.

Portsmouth: James (7), Johnson (6), Campbell (6), Pamarot (6), Hreidarsson (8), Davis (5) (Mvuemba (6)), Diarra (8), Hughes (6), Kranjcar (7), Baros (7), Defoe (6).
Subs Not Used: Ashdown, Aubey, Lauren, Pedro Mendes.

Booked: Davis, Pamarot.

Goals: Defoe 64.

Chelsea: Cech (6), Belletti (5), Ben-Haim (6), Alex (6), Ashley Cole (7), Makelele (6), Wright-Phillips (6), Ballack (7), Malouda (7) (Pizarro (6)), Joe Cole (6), Anelka (7).
Subs Not Used: Cudicini, Sidwell, Bridge, Ferreira.

Goals: Anelka 55.

Attendance: 20,488

Referee: Howard Webb

Chelsea Star Man : Nicolas Anelka

Man of the Match


Hermann Hreidarsson

Edited by BlueLion
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