Pompey upset Spurs in semi final

LONDON - Debt-crippled Portsmouth emerged from the maelstrom of a stormy season on Sunday to reach the FA Cup final by sinking Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 at Wembley.

The south coast club, who were relegated from the Premier League on Saturday and were rated 9-1 by bookmakers to beat Spurs, produced a battling display to reach the finale for the second time in three seasons having beaten Cardiff in 2008.

Tottenham had been expected to set up a May 15 showdown with Chelsea but after 90 minutes of stalemate, goals from Frederic Piquionne and former Tottenham player Kevin-Prince Boateng sent Portsmouth's long-suffering fans into delirium.

For manager Avram Grant, whose short reign at Pompey has been hampered by the cash crisis, transfer embargoes, points deductions and injuries to key players, it was a rare reason to smile as the club showed that it will go down with all guns blazing.

"We had the belief, we had the courage to come to this game to win this game," Grant, who will now face Chelsea, the club that sacked him after he took them to the 2008 Champions League final, on May 15.

"It's nice... blues against blues. It's unbelievable. These fans this year I will not forget in all my life. This belongs to the fans and the players. They deserve it. To see the fans this happy you work all your life for this."

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Harry Redknapp, who steered Portsmouth to their FA Cup final triumph in 2008, their first since 1939, before leaving to transform Tottenham's fortunes, warmly congratulated Grant but was left cursing the Wembley pitch.

As in Saturday's semi-final between Chelsea and Aston Villa players often slipped on the turf - most tellingly in the 99th minute when Spurs skipper Michael Dawson lost his footing, allowing Piquionne to fire the opener.

"The pitch is a disgrace," Redknapp told reporters. "I'm not using it as an excuse but for any professional team to have to play on that is farcical. Michael Dawson slipped on it, it can't be right, can it?"

NEWS: Redknapp and Grant slam Wembley surface

Tottenham also had reason to feel hard done by when Peter Crouch had a goal disallowed shortly after Piquionne's opener but Redknapp was full of praise for his old club.

"People said before the match that we had got an easy game, but I knew it was never going to be an easy game. Full credit to Portsmouth. It's their day."

While Redknapp begins the post-mortem and tries to rally his side for Wednesday's crucial home Premier League match against Arsenal as they try and stay in touch for fourth place, Portsmouth at least have a silver lining to their torrid season.


Of Portsmouth's starters on Sunday, only keeper David James began the Cup final in 2008, such has been the turmoil at the club which went into administration in February with debts of around 70 million pounds, triggering a nine-point deduction that all but condemned them to relegation.

Many of their players are unlikely to be at the club next season but for 120 minutes they fought for the badge with a pride and passion that Tottenham, for all their possession, rarely matched.

Piquionne was a thorn in Tottenham's side all day, twice breaking clear in the first half to force good saves from Tottenham keeper Heurelho Gomes.

Tottenham showed more urgency after the break and Crouch, one of several players who jumped ship with Redknapp to White Hart Lane from Fratton Park, wasted two great chances and was denied a stoppage time winner by an instinctive save by James.

With the Pompey fans in full choir the decisive moment arrived in the 99th minute when a free-kick was hoisted into the Spurs area.

Dawson seemed poised to clear the knock down but his feet went from under him and he could only watch in horror as Piquionne, a player on loan from Lyon, pounced to stab home.

Tottenham were stung into action and had the ball in the net almost immediately when Crouch fired past James but referee Alan Wiley ruled that Niko Kranjcar, a Cup winner with Portsmouth, had fouled James.

With Tottenham desperately seeking an equaliser, Portsmouth struck on the counter-attack with three minutes to go and Wilson Palacios brought down the marauding Aruna Dindane in the area.

Boateng stepped up to bury the spot kick and spark a huge party among the blue-clad thousands massed behind the goal.

Portsmouth are the first club to reach the FA Cup final in the same season as getting relegated since Middlesbrough also got through to face Chelsea in 1997.

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