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Crouchy, Niko secure win

Posted on 27 March 2010  - 12:00

Peter Crouch and Niko Kranjcar struck against their former club as we made it five wins on the trot in the Premier League by beating Portsmouth 2-0 on Saturday.

Crouchy, Niko secure win

Peter Crouch and Niko Kranjcar struck against their former club as we made it five wins on the trot in the Premier League by beating Portsmouth 2-0 on Saturday.

Crouch headed home the key opening goal from Gareth Bale's teasing cross after 27 minutes and the points were in the bag when Kranjcar flicked home from close range 14 minutes later.

The victory stretched our current run to nine unbeaten and just two defeats in the last 22 matches in all competitions. It was another good day in the Premier League as well as fourth-place rivals Villa lost at Chelsea.

Harry Redknapp made three changes from the starting line-up against Fulham. Kyle Walker came in for his debut at right-back for the injured Vedran Corluka while Tom Huddlestone and David Bentley - who both came off the bench to great effect against Fulham on Wednesday - returned in midfield.

Walker and Bassong came through late fitness tests to start with Roman Pavlyuchenko only fit enough to take his place on the bench alongside Wilson Palacios, another player battling against injury.

Barring a couple of Bale raids down the left, the lads actually started slowly and were indebted to Heurelho Gomes, who produced a key save to deny Anthony Vanden Borre after 19 minutes with the scoreline still goalless. Borre played a one-two with Frederic Piquionne and was clean through but Gomes stood up and saved with his legs, Borre left kicking the post in frustration.

That proved the spark as it was pretty much one-way traffic from there.

Bale crashed a volley on target from Bentley's corner but it hit Aaron Mokoena and the South African was there again five minutes later when Walker fired in a low cross and the ball deflected off Mokoena into David James' hands with Kranjcar waiting to pounce.

The breakthrough arrived after 27 minutes. Bale got away from Michael Brown and took off down the left again but his path was blocked by two defenders. Instead of trying to burst past, Bale picked the gap between the Pompey pair and crossed perfectly for Crouch to plant home his header from close range.

Dawson headed just wide and we then it the woodwork twice in a minute, first Huddlestone's almost casual strike from 25 yards left the crossbar rattling, then Crouch hit a dipping volley that came back off the inside of the post.

A second goal looked inevitable and arrived after 41 minutes. This was all about Walker's awareness as he got to the right byline and angled his cutback to the edge of the box for Luka Modric. The Croatian's shot hit Hayden Mullins and his compatriot Kranjcar was there to flick home from inside the six-yard box.

There was still time for another warning from the visitors - and another fine save from Gomes. Kanu knocked down Borre's cross for Brown, just eight yards out, but Gomes was out in a flash to block.

Pompey were forced into an early change at the start of the second half as Hermann Hreidarsson went down unchallenged in the box and looked in some discomfort as he was stretchered off. Danny Webber entered the fray, Steve Finnan moved to centre-back and Borre to right-back.

The visitors continued to probe away and Gomes was forced to snatch the ball away from Webber after spilling Kanu's drive before Brown fired a yard wide.

There was then a blow as Michael Dawson limped off. He replaced by Younes Kaboul in a straight swap and Huddlestone took over the captaincy.

Bentley was seeing plenty of the ball at this stage and after firing in a 30-yarder straight at James, fed in Walker on the overlap. The youngster found Crouch who teed himself up for a volley that sailed wide.

The next 10 minutes were relatively quiet and Pavlyuchenko was introduced for Gudjohnsen in the 79th minute.

Bassong forced a decent save from James a minute later, getting down to his left to field a powerful header from Bentley's corner and, typically, Pavlyuchenko was soon in the action, just failing to guide substitute Benoit Assou-Ekotto's cross on target.

Pompey then suffered another two injury blows as Webber was stretchered off after appearing to jar his right knee and James limped off, replaced by Jamie Ashdown, leaving them with 10 players.

'Always look on the bright side of life' sung their fans and the injuries were reflected by eight minutes of injury time.

There was only one further chance of note though as Bale drove forward and released Crouch on goal, the striker clipped the ball over Ashdown but inches wide.

Spurs (4-4-2): Gomes; Kyle Walker, Bassong, Dawson (Kaboul, 62), Bale; Bentley, Huddlestone, Modric, Kranjcar (Assou-Ekotto, 67); Crouch, Gudjohnsen (Pavlyuchenko, 79). Unused subs: Alnwick, Livermore, Palacios, Rose.

Portsmouth (4-1-4-1): James (Ashdown, 89); Mullins, Mokoena, Hreidarsson (Webber, 52), Finnan; Bassinas (Owusu-Abeyie, 84); Borre, Brown, Hughes, Piquonne; Kanu. Subs: Ashdown, Ward, Ritchie, Sowah.