Triumphant Portsmouth Lift Asia Trophy

Last updated : 27 July 2007 By Jim Bonner
Portsmouth held on against Liverpool to hold them to a 0-0 draw and then held their nerve to beat the Reds 4-2 on penalties.

Rafael Benitez's men had the majority of possession and created a fair few chances in the first half but failed to score thanks to some woeful finishing by Dirk Kuyt and some quality goalkeeping from David James.

Kuyt spurned golden opportunities to put Liverpool in front but it was Pompey who carved the best chance in the game when a through ball from Sulley Muntari put Gary O'Neil through one-on-one with Jose Reina but the 'keeper stood up and saved O'Neil's strike.

The second half began with a series of substitutes from Harry Redknapp. Benjani, Mendes, Cranie and the anonymous David Nugent were replaced by LuaLua, Pamarot, Lauren and John Utaka respectively.

The introductions couldn't change the game as the second half followed the same pattern as the first with Liverpool dominating possession but failing to convert the limited chances they had as the Pompey defence held firm.

Pompey's best chances of the second half came when LuaLua hit the post and Benjani fired wide from a tight angle. A couple of fine saves from Jamo ensured that we remained through pre-season without conceding a goal as the game went to penalties.

Pompey got off to the worst possible start as John Utaka fired his penalty wide whilst Gerrard buried his. Matt Taylor would then dispatch his spot kick in his usual fashion but Dirk Kuyt made up for his earlier misses by putting away his penalty kick. Lomana LuaLua ensured that we wouldn't fall further behind by converting his spot kick and then the nature of the shootout would then change...

Fernando Torres; only allowed to play because Harry Redknapp agreed to let him play without proper clearance, struck his penalty to James' left and he read the shot and saved to bring the scores level. Hermann Hriedarsson then put the ball in the net and James produced an excellent save to deny Benayoun from the spot. Niko Kranjcar, a last minute sub, converted his spot kick to ensure that it would be Portsmouth who would win the Asia Trophy.

Looking at the game as a whole, the defence did well to limit Liverpool to the chances they had whilst James was probably the standout performer for us despite a couple of occasions when he come running out of goal and almost paid for it.

I was also impressed with Muntari's battling performance despite managing to get booked in a friendly but we really lacked going forward with the likes of Mendes, Taylor and Nugent hardly even seeing the ball whilst John Utaka also went virtually un-noticed through the whole game.

If we can get our strikers more involved, and produce a greater level of creativity in midfield then we're going to have a good season because our defence has been excellent so far.

Still, for the time being we should just relish lifting a piece of silverware and getting one over the scousers!