There’s not much fun to be had in watching unevenly matched opponents go head to head. This game was like watching Joe Louis against the Bum Of The Month Club. It was just a matter of time before Portsmouth were sprawled on the canvas and the only question was how long we’d have to wait.
It took 27 minutes for us to strike the first killer blow. Another perfect Gareth Bale cross was headed in by Peter Crouch, who was clearly very pleased to get back into the goalscoring habit.
Crouch almost scored a spectacular second. Huddlestone’s long shot cannoned off the bar and the ball found it’s way to Crouch on the right, only for his volley to strike the post.
Portsmouth’s charmed life ended in the 41st minutes, as did the match as any kind of spectacle. Debutant Kyle Walker got to the byline and pulled the ball back to Modric, whose deflected shot (is there any other kind of Modric shot?) fell into the path of Niko Kranjcar, who made it 2-0. Kranjcar didn’t celebrate the goal against his former club, with must have made Crouch feel a bit shamefaced, considering that he gave it large having scored our first.
After the break we never really bothered to get out of first gear, which is a bit irresponsible considering that we might have easily have hammered Portsmouth and improved our goal difference even more. You do find though, in football and in life, that people often just do enough to get by. With Portsmouth not giving us much of a challenge, we were able to play out the game as if it were a practice match.
It really was the perfect type of game to give a Premier League debut to a young player and Kyle Walker looked a decent prospect at right back. I’m pleased that Harry decided to play a youngster in his correct position, rather than playing a more experienced pro out of position. Walker seems like he’s good going forward and solid defensively. It will be interesting to see what will happen next season with him and Kyle Naughton.
We were also felt secure enough in our ability to beat Portsmouth’s motley crew, to leave Wilson Palacios on the bench and away from the danger of a yellow card. Are we going to leave him our of the trip to Sunderland as well? It seems a risky strategy to me. There’s probably more chance of us picking up three points against Sunderland than against the Scum, but Steve Bruce’s side are pretty decent at home and we can’t take them too lightly.
On the evidence of this game I have not doubt that we will easily dispense of Porstmouth in the semi final, with or without Palacios. We even crocked a couple of their players to make things a little easier for ourselves, although we also had our own injury worry, with Dawson having to be replaced by Kaboul.
Overall it was a professional job, well executed. Villa surely have a very slim chance of making fourth now, while Liverpool and Fernando Torres should stop shouting about what they’re going to do until they win an away game. Fingers crossed for Wigan tonight…