LuaLua completes comeback win for Portsmouth

Portsmouth 3 West Brom 2

Portsmouth 3 West Brom 2

Lomana LuaLua fired home an 89th-minute winner as Portsmouth completed a stunning late comeback to beat West Brom at Fratton Park.

The Baggies had seemed on course for their first Barclays Premiership win under new boss Bryan Robson until Arjan de Zeeuw and substitute LuaLua found the net in the closing stages.

Rob Earnshaw had put West Brom 2-1 ahead late in the first half after Dejan Stefanovic and Darren Purse and both scored own goals but they could not hold on.

The win lifted spirits at Pompey after their miserable Carling Cup loss to Watford in midweek.

Goalkeeper Jamie Ashdown had blundered in that game but Pompey chose to keep faith him for the visit of the Baggies and leave veteran stopper Shaka Hislop on the bench.

Pompey’s triumvirate of selectors also brought in Andy Griffin for Linvoy Primus and started with just one striker in Ricardo Fuller with LuaLua on the bench.

Robson included former Portsmouth pair Russell Hoult and Darren Moore and were boosted by the return of Kanu and Bernt Haas.

Albion’s business-like start soon earned a corner and Haas’ flagkick was only half cleared to Jonathan Greening who volleyed wide from 20 yards.

The visitors were lucky not to concede a penalty in the ninth minute when Riccardo Scimeca clearly held down Matt Taylor as the midfielder moved into the box.

By the time David Unsworth struck the loose ball Scimeca was up on his feet and blocking it.

Pompey were still complaining five minutes later when Albion took the lead with an own goal from Stefanovic.

Neil Clement took possession on the left, out-witted Griffin and fired in a low cross which Stefanovic skewered into the roof of the net as he lunged in ahead of Earnshaw.

Unsworth’s shot had to be tipped over at full stretch by Hoult as Pompey hit back.

And they gained their reward in ironic fashion in the 34th minute when Stefanovic sprinted down the left and put in a cross which Purse turned past his own goalkeeper at the far post for the second own goal of the game.

But the comedy defending did not end there as Pompey gifted the visitors their second goal in the final minute of the first half.

Firstly Amdy Faye headed the ball across his own goalmouth when he could easily have cleared and then Taylor compounded the error with a ludicrous back-heal gave the ball to Scimeca.

With Ashdown out his goal, all Scimeca had to do was square the ball for a wide open Earnshaw to tap in.

Far from sitting back at the start of the second half, Albion took the initiative and Earnshaw almost grabbed himself a second goal in the 52nd minute.

Running away from goal to take possession, he suddenly made a sharp turn and clipped his shot from 20 yards just over the crossbar.

Portsmouth soon began to look more solid in defence, with Primus doing well as Unsworth’s replacement, and the arrival of Patrik Berger helped them take charge in midfield.

Steve Stone and Berger linked well to set up the overlapping Stefanovic whose low drive demanded a save from Hoult in the 54th minute, and 60 seconds later LuaLua came on as substitute for Taylor.

With an extra forward, albeit one who has been out of action for two weeks through injury, Portsmouth were suddenly probing for openings.

LuaLua forced a corner on the left with a penetrating run, and from Berger’s delivery, Faye threatened the goal.

Stefanovic was almost acting as an extra forward, and it needed another Hoult stop to keep him out.

West Brom were defending doggedly but Pompey refused to give in and finally broke through when Arjan de Zeeuw headed home five minutes from time.

De Zeeuw was the first to react to substitute Eyal Berkovic’s free-kick from the left as he rose to head past Hoult.

There was still time for Pompey to snatch a winner and it was another substitute, LuaLua, who grabbed it as the game moved into the 89th minute.

Again Berkovic was the creator, picking out LuaLua with a cross that he chested down and smashed home.

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