Portsmouth 5 Middlesbrough 1

Last updated : 15 May 2004 By Footymad Previewer

Portsmouth put a week of off-field troubles behind them to annihilate Middlesbrough with a top-class performance.

It was Boro's worst away defeat for five years and no more than they deserved for a poor display in defence and in their finishing, which might have stretched Portsmouth briefly in the first half.

Nigerian striker Yakubu Ayegbeni scored four goals and missed three other chances as Middlesbrough, weakened by injury, threatened to fold.

Pompey never looked back after taking the lead in the fourth minute when Yakubu raced clear onto a pass from Eyal Berkovic before tucking away his 14th of the season.

Eight minutes later Yakubu was brought down by Danny Mills, although it appeared to be a theatrical dive, and got up to convert the spot kick.

Yakubu shot over from 15 yards when it looked easier to score and Middlesbrough at last came into the match to pull a goal back after 27 minutes.

Bolo Zenden's low left-foot shot from 25 yards gave Shaka Hislop no chance but Portsmouth were soon confirming their superiority.

After 31 minutes, Yakubu beat Ugo Ehiogu with some neat close control before lashing in his third and there was still time for him to mis-kick from four yards when another looked certain.

Joseph-Desire Job and Franck Queudrue had golden opportunities to narrow the gap and after the break Szilard Nemeth fired over with only Hislop to beat.

With it died Middlesbrough's challenge because Teddy Sheringham, on as a substitute for his last appearance, was almost on the goal-line when he ran in a pass from Matt Taylor after 80 minutes.

Mark Schwarzer made a superb double save a minute later to block a shot from Steve Stone and then the close range follow-up from Yakubu.

But the powerful and pacey Yakubu was altogether too hot for the re-arranged Boro defence and with seven minutes remaining he smashed in a right-foot shot past the unprotected Schwarzer to complete the scoring.