A Tale Of Two Goals
Harry Redknapp opted to go back for the 4-3-3 that has served us so well on the road this season and it worked relatively well again yesterday, although I thought we rode our luck a bit as it was a bit scrappy out there.
The game started with both teams trying to keep the ball but neither were doing it very well because both sides were very good in closing the opposition down and making the odd block tackle here and there.
Birmingham's only real chance of the first half came when Forssell turned in the box and his shot was well saved by James. You couldn't really see a goal coming from either team but then we were gifted a goal that even Scott Carson would have laughed at.
For those who haven't seen it, Muntari's "shot" from a tight angle managed to slip under fellow Ghanian Richard Kingson. The majority of the Pompey fans in the away end hadn't even realised the ball had gone into the net until the players started celebrating.
If you have seen the blunder, you're probably still laughing now. I just wish that the "Easeh" chant would be banned now as a section of our fans started singing it even though we had just taken a fluke 1-0 lead and it's just cringeworthy to listen to now.
After the goal, we left ourselves vulnerable to conceding an equaliser and we would have done if it wasn't for some excellent last-ditch defending from Distin and Pamarot.
The second half started in the same manner as Diop gave the ball away from the kick-off which meant we were immediately on the back foot again and had the defence to thank for not conceding. Liam Ridgewell did find the net but the flag had gone up well before.
We found our feet again and could have scored another goal on the counter-attack but kept making the wrong decision or an error at the crucial moment and so couldn't find the second goal that would have finished the Brummies off.
That was until Muamba fouled Pamarot 25 yards out and Niko Kranjcar stood over the ball. He took a few steps back, looked at the ball and then simply arrowed it into the top far corner of the net.
His celebration was simply to stand there and smile as if he were saying "That's how you do it lads!" It was a superb way to respond to the home fans who had been booing him when he got the ball.
Pompey then simply saw out the rest of the game to record their sixth straight win away from home (five in the league), and extend their unbeaten Premier League run to a record breaking nine games.
We were nowhere near as good as what we were at Newcastle, but probably just deserved the win on balance of play because we were just too strong for Birmingham. We did get a bit of luck with the first goal, but then you always need a bit of luck when you're producing the sort of run we are.
On a final note, Niko Kranjcar will be playing against England again as Croatia are in our World Cup qualifying group along with Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Andorra. Will we qualify? Well if Harry was in charge then I think we would, but then we don't want that, do we?
Pompey Player Ratings
David James: 7 - Made a couple of good saves and important takes.
Glen Johnson: 8 - Having the best spell of his career for a long time and was good once again yesterday.
Sol Campbell: 7 - Solid performance after his England outings.
Sylvain Distin: 8 - Excellent once again, and showed great pace to stop Kapo from scoring when he looked favourite to score.
Noe Pamarot: 8 - Is going to continue to keep Hermann out with his very good performances.
Sean Davis: 7 - Won the ball plenty of times but didn't pass it as well as he can.
Papa Bouba Diop: 7 - Passing was off but showed great strength to stop Birmingham winning the ball.
Sulley Muntari: 6 - A hit-and-miss game, lucky to score.
John Utaka: 6 - Made too many errors when we were in promising positions.
Niko Kranjcar: 7 - Didn't get the ball often but always looked dangerous with it. Outstanding free kick too.
Benjani: 7 - Played the lone striker role well, and did his fair share of defending from the front.
Matthew Taylor: N/A - Late-ish sub on for Utaka.