Premier League - Spurs down sorry Pompey

Eurosport - Sat, 27 Mar 17:04:00 2010

Portsmouth's terrible season went from bad to worse at White Hart Lane as they lost 2-0 to Tottenham Hotspur and had two players stretchered off, finishing the match with 10 men on the field.

Tottenham Hotspur's Croatian midfielder Niko Kranjcar (L) celebrates scoring his goal with Peter Crouch - 0

Peter Crouch and Niko Kranjcar both struck against their former club to strengthen Tottenham's hold on fourth place after a spirited early showing from the visitors.

Of more pressing concern to Pompey manager Avram Grant will be injuries to Hermann Hreidarsson and Danny Webber - who were both stretchered off - and goalkeeper David James - who limped off the field as he was substituted late on.

With Liverpool and Manchester City not playing on Saturday, the win moves Spurs five points clear of their top four rivals, while Portsmouth remain 11 points adrift at the bottom.

There was a warm embrace between Harry Redknapp and Portsmouth counterpart Grant, once Redknapp's director of football at Fratton Park, but the Spurs manager's team were not so welcoming on the field.

Gareth Bale exchanged passes with Luka Modric on the left and galloped forward down the flank. The in-form Welshman had three blue shirts around him, but that did not stop him from chipping a cross in for Crouch to stoop and head past James on 27 minutes to give Spurs the lead.

Kranjcar doubled Tottenham's lead five minutes before half-time. Right-back Kyle Walker, making his Premier League debut for Spurs, surged to the byline and pulled a ball back to Modric on the edge of the box. The playmaker's strike rebounded off Hayden Mullins in the area and landed kindly for Kranjcar to prod home from close range.

Spurs could have been two ahead before Kranjcar struck his ninth of the season. Tom Huddlestone sent a thundering strike from distance crashing off the bar, and as the second ball came in Crouch hit the far post with a looping volley. Then, barely a minute later, the England striker executed an impressive overhead kick inside the area, but it was struck right at James.

Portsmouth had started quite brightly in what was a dress rehearsal for next month's FA Cup semi-final at Wembley and Anthony Vanden Borre deserved a goal for his marauding run that culminated in a neat one-two with Frederique Piquionne on the edge of the Spurs box, only for him to be denied by the onrushing Heurelho Gomes.

Injuries had decimated the Portsmouth squad to such an extent that they could only name six substitutes on the bench before kick-off, and things got worse soon after the restart when veteran defender Hreidarsson collapsed to the ground with no one near him inside the Portsmouth box. The Icelandic stopper went down clutching his ankle, and was eventually stretchered off and replaced by Webber.

After taking a few minutes to get over seeing their team-mate and PFA representative hurt, Portsmouth rallied, in particular former Spurs midfielder Michael Brown, whose surging runs led to one shot flashing wide and an excellent last-ditch tackle from Younes Kaboul, who came off the bench to face his former club after Michael Dawson limped off.

Spurs, however, remained in control, and Sebastien Bassong should have beaten James with a free header from a corner, only to see his effort saved.

Things took yet another serious downward turn for Portsmouth when, with just a few minutes of the match remaining, Webber jarred his ankle after slight contact from Benoit Assou-Ekotto, and he too left the field on a stretcher.

As Webber was being treated on the pitch, James was also nursing an ankle injury, which he seemed to pick up as he landed after a routine catch. As Grant had just brought Quincy Owusu-Abeyie on to the field in a tactical switch, Jamie Ashdown took the place of James in the Portsmouth goal and the visitors ended a torrid afternoon with 10 men on the field.

Spurs were unrelenting in their quest for a third goal against a broken Portsmouth side during the ensuing nine minutes of stoppage time, but efforts from Crouch and Bale were blocked before the whistle finally and mercifully blew.

Tony Mabert / Eurosport

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