Benjani's Ram Raid

Last updated : 19 January 2008 By Jim Bonner
After 578 minutes, the long and agonising wait for a goal at Fratton Park is finally over! Benjani bagged his second hat-trick of the season to beat basement boys Derby 3-1 after they had taken an early lead.

Sol Campbell missed the game with a back injury although "apparently" he was shopping in Winchester, so maybe there's something going on behind the scenes after the captain's recent little outburst... not that I think anything will come of this speculation.

Noe Pamarot took his place and Lassana Diarra made his debut as Pompey switched to 4-4-2, playing Lauren on the right (ugh!) and Benjani up front with Nugent.

Even with our wretched home form you'd have expected us to come out all guns blazing against one of the worst sides ever to grace the Premier League, but Pompey have never done things the easy way have they?

Laurent Robert's free kick found was headed back across the goal from the far post and an effort that hit the bar rebounded to Lewin Nyatanga who slotted in from all of two yards. Five minutes gone and not only did we have to score, but we had to score twice!

Kenny Miller almost made it two for Derby soon after if it wasn't for some desperate defending but from that point on, Pompey dominated the rest of the half as wave after wave of blue shirts laid siege to Derby's goal.

David Nugent spooned over from inside the box, Kranjcar came close with a volley and Pamarot sent his free header well wide. Full marks to the crowd for getting behind the team during this time as in circumstances like this, it would have been easy to turn against our own players.

The pressure paid off as Benjani, who earlier shot so far wide the ball went out for a throw in, held the ball in the box and then turned and struck his shot into the top corner of the net to finally end the long wait for a home goal! But we needed to score again...

Now this season our Zimbabwean striker seems to score goals in gluts before going on a barren run and this trend would continue as he headed in with precise accuracy from Hermann Hreidarsson's excellent cross from the left. That goal gave us a lead we would take into half-time.

After the break Pompey sealed the win with one of the best goals we'll see at Fratton this season. The ball was in our half of the pitch but Benjani played a neat one-two with Mendes that saw the Zimbabwean through on goal and he tucked the ball past price with a cool finish to seal the win.

We had other opportunities in the game after that as Derby's poor defence wilted, but we were also guilty of some sloppy defending at times as Giles Barnes would have scored if his header was on target and the James produced a great save to make sure that Barnes was denied again.

Overall this performance was the perfect way to bounce back after last Sunday's horror show, especially after falling behind so early. Benjani was a menace all game as was Niko Kranjcar who created many opportunities for other players.

Hermann Hreidarsson and Pedro Mendes both played their best games in a Pompey shirt for some time whilst Lassana Diarra's debut was excellent with the French midfielder quick on the ball and showing a good range of passing.

Still, the bottom line is that this was only against Derby County and we will be tested far more severely in the games to come against Manchester United and Chelsea, which makes today's result even more important.

But the main thing is that the goal drought is finally over!

Pompey Player Ratings

David James: 7 - One great save in an otherwise quiet game.

Glen Johnson: 7 - Good return to the side.

Noe Pamarot: 6 - Steady performance.

Sylvain Distin: 7 - Chased and tracked back well.

Hermann Hreidarsson: 8 - Good assist for the second goal and was a rock at the back.

Lauren: 6 - Solid, but didn't have too much attacking influence as expected.

Pedro Mendes: 8 - Best performance for a long time. Great passing.

Lassana Diarra: 8 - Strong, quick and skilful debut.

Niko Kranjcar: 8 - Could have had a couple of goals himself after carving through Derby's defence time and time again.

Benjani: 10 - Second hat-trick for Pompey's favourite Zimbabwean.

David Nugent: 7 - Worked hard but wasted a great opportunity to score.


Asmir Begovic

Lucien Aubey

Richard Hughes: 6 - Did his job.

Arnold Mvuemba: N/A - Late cameo.

Franck Songo'o