Portsmouth stun Spurs to reach FA Cup final
Portsmouth reached the FA Cup final by scoring two extra-time goals to beat Tottenham 2-0 yesterday, a day after the 2008 winners were relegated from the Premier League in a season where crippling debts almost put the club out of business.
Frederic Piquionne, who is on loan from Lyon, broke the deadlock in the ninth minute of extra time. Former Spurs midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng added another from the penalty spot 18 minutes later.
"This season encapsulates just about every emotion you can have as a footballer and today has been absolutely superb," said goalkeeper David James, who was the only remaining player in yesterday's starting line-up from the 2008 team that won the title.
Portsmouth manager Avram Grant will come up against former side Chelsea in the May 15 final after the defending champions beat Aston Villa 3-0 on Saturday.
It will be a remarkable conclusion to a season for Portsmouth, which became the first Premier League team to go into financial administration last month and have court-appointed insolvency experts running the club while trying to find a buyer.
Winning the semi-final will provide about $3 million in prize money and ticketing revenue for the south-coast club, which is still in bankruptcy protection.
"This is a great achievement after what's happened this season," Grant said. "I remember arriving at the club one day (in February) and being told that next week there will be no club. We have been living on a day-(to)-day basis and despite this, we have reached the final."
Portsmouth did that by overcoming a Spurs side managed by Harry Redknapp, who led them to glory on the same pitch two years ago. But winning their first trophy since 1950 came after overspending on player transfer and salaries.
Drastically cutting the squad in the ensuing financial meltdown couldn't prevent Portsmouth from entering financial administration and receiving a nine-point deduction.
Relegation to the League Championship was confirmed Saturday after West Ham's victory over Sunderland ended any faint hopes of survival.
Tottenham profited most from Portsmouth's plight, signing Redknapp in 2008 and numerous players, including strikers Jermain Defoe and Peter Crouch.
Neither striker, though, provided much threat for Spurs, who are fifth in the league and in the running for a Champions League spot, against their last-place opponents.
"Pompey were dangerous on the counter-attack. They had pace," Redknapp said.
"They are a threat and full credit to them. We had plenty of chances, good chances, but missed them and that's how it goes."