Portsmouth 0 Aston Villa 1: Hot-shot Heskey quick off the mark as O'Neill's men go third

28 January 2009 12:41
Power show: Pompey defender Hermann Hreidarsson (left) is helpless as Emile Heskey scores on his Villa debut   More. Portsmouth 0 Aston Villa 1: The action from Fratton Park as it happened I will not pay extortionate money to get us into the Champions League, says Villa boss O'Neill Portsmouth sign Pele (no, not that one) as Mullins joins him at Fratton Park HATCHET MAN: Villa deserve a lot of credit but talk of them beating big guns to the title is foolish ASTON VILLA FC NEWS FROM ACROSS THE WEB PORTSMOUTH FC NEWS FROM ACROSS THE WEB Pompey’s task was not made any easier by the stupidity of full back Nadir Belhadj, who was shown a second yellow card for arguing with a linesman over a throw-in. Belhadj had been fortunate not to be shown a straight red card in the first half when he hacked down Craig Gardner from behind because he was too lazy to chase him down the flank. He got away with it on that occasion but not for long. Portsmouth supporters, having seen their team lose to Swansea in the FA Cup, jeered referee Peter Walton, who actually had a decent game. Their frustration may be understandable. Pompey have not won in the Premier League since early November and the pressure increases on manager Tony Adams. Pressure: Tony Adams feels the strain at Fratton Park O’Neill, however, could not be happier. There is no way he could have expected such an instant return from Heskey, a player widely admired for his honest graft but rarely feted for his goalscoring exploits. ‘I hope it will be the first of many,’ said the Villa manager. ‘He took it brilliantly. I was delighted with him, delighted for him. He adapted very quickly.’ Heskey rose high to beat Sol Campbell and glance Friedel’s long goal- kick onwards. Gabriel Agbonlahor then won an aerial duel with Sylvain Distin and Heskey had continued the charge, leaving Campbell trailing in his wake to collect the bouncing ball on the edge of the Pompey area. He did not hesitate as he unleashed a fierce right-foot drive which flashed low inside the post. It was a supremely confident piece of finishing, belying the notion that he is reduced to a bag of nerves in front of goal. Setting in nicely: Heskey (left) is congratulated by Villa team-mates (l-r) Gareth Barry, James Milner and Gabriel Agbonlahor ‘He used to be s**** but now he’s all right,’ sang the Villa fans. He used to play for Birmingham but he is about to spearhead an unlikely Villa assault on the title. The claret-and-blue side of the second city love him already. Agbonlahor should have made it 2-0 before the break when he sped clear in the inside left channel. He opened his body as if to roll a sidefooter towards the far post, then tried to trick David James with his eyes, dragging a shot to the near post. Alas for the England striker, it all went horribly wrong and the ball dribbled wide. Pompey skipper Campbell, struggling with a hip problem, did not emerge after the break. Adams sent on Younes Kaboul and saw his team press the visitors back, with Jermaine Pennant forcing two good saves from Friedel inside five minutes and Belhadj firing wide. Peter Crouch screwed the ball wide when it seemed easier to score and was then off target with a header from a corner. Referee Walton rejected Portsmouth’s claims for a penalty when Pennant’s run was blocked and Friedel made a brave save at the feet of substitute John Utaka three minutes from time. The weight of the world on his shoulders: Crouch Adams urged his team forward but all the time he knew Villa were dangerous on the counter-attack, utilising the pace of James Milner and Agbonlahor to good effect. Strong in defence, potent on the break and with goals from various areas, including Heskey. No wonder O’Neill was in the mood for a joke. ‘We’ll probably go on and win it now,’ he smiled, before reverting to his usual response. Job done: Gabriel Agbonlahor and Martin O'Neill salute the travelling fans as Villa go third ‘I still believe the other teams up there, including Arsenal, have a bit more about them. I’ve heard about Manchester United’s result. They are different class. The other four have been there every season and seen these months before. It’s new to us but it’s exciting. We might as well enjoy it.’ Adams said: ‘I can’t criticise any of them. I thought we deserved something. If we play like we did in the first half against Swansea we won't go anywhere but I was delighted with them tonight. Villa are a very good team. Distin thought he was fouled on the goal. He got a push.’  Match facts PORTSMOUTH (4-4-2): James 6; Johnson 6, Campbell 5 (Kaboul 46, 6), Distin 6, Hreidarsson 7; Pennant 7, Mullins 7, Davis 6, Belhadj 5; Kanu 5 (Utaka 75, 5), Crouch 5. Booked: Belhadj, Johnson. Sent off: Belhadj. ASTON VILLA (4-4-2): Friedel 7; Cuellar 7, Davies 8, Knight 7, L Young 7; Gardner 7 (Sidwell 65, 6), Petrov 6, Barry 7, Milner 7; Agbonlahor 7, Heskey 7 (Shorey 82). Booked: Petrov, Milner. Man of the match: Curtis Davies. Referee: Peter Walton.   More. Portsmouth 0 Aston Villa 1: The action from Fratton Park as it happened I will not pay extortionate money to get us into the Champions League, says Villa boss O'Neill Portsmouth sign Pele (no, not that one) as Mullins joins him at Fratton Park HATCHET MAN: Villa deserve a lot of credit but talk of them beating big guns to the title is foolish ASTON VILLA FC NEWS FROM ACROSS THE WEB PORTSMOUTH FC NEWS FROM ACROSS THE WEB  

Source: Daily_Mail