Taylor screamer the highlight for Pompey

Portsmouth 2 Everton 0

Portsmouth 2 Everton 0

Matt Taylor's spectacular 45-yard special followed by a perfect blast from nine-goal Nwankwo Kanu sent Portsmouth up to third in the Premiership today as injury-hit Everton were left stunned at Fratton Park.

Taylor, who grabbed two goals in a home draw with Aston Villa last week, launched a dipping 14th-minute volley from near the halfway line despite only passing a fitness test on his back just before kick-off.

It left Everton keeper Tim Howard stumbling backwards but he was never anywhere near stopping the ball dropping under the crossbar.

Pompey's afternoon got even better when Kanu put his left foot to a cross from Gary O'Neil 12 minutes later and buried the ball unerringly past Howard.

Everton, who started the day just a single point behind Pompey, were outclassed by Harry Redknapp's side and, despite a determined second-half fightback, could make no inroads into their hosts' comfortable lead.

Redknapp's squad is growing smaller through injuries and he finished the game with no strikers on the pitch, winger Rodolph Douala and midfielder Niko Kranjcar replacing Kanu and Benjani Mwaruwari - with Andy Cole and Lomana Lualua both out injured until the end of the month.

Pompey needed victory to go third above Arsenal - their next opponents - after three games without a win, but they knew defeat would see Everton, who have never lost in the Premiership at Fratton Park, climb above them.

There was never much chance of that after Taylor's spectacular opener and Kanu's cracking second.

Without injured midfield stars Tim Cahill, Leon Osman and Mikel Arteta and utility man Phil Neville, the visitors were always fighting an uphill battle.

Indeed, Pompey could have been even further ahead before the break after making their intentions clear right from the start.

A linesman's narrow offside decision stopped Benjani breaking clear on Kanu's flick after only five minutes as Redknapp's men moved quickly into top gear.

Benjani and Glen Johnson both had shots blocked in quick succession as Portsmouth, without suspended midfielder Pedro Mendes, built patiently with short passes.

Everton had still not raised a meaningful attack, despite the prodigious running of £15.5 million strike duo Andrew Johnson and James Beattie, when Taylor struck his astonishing goal.

Kanu and Simon Davies went for a 50-50 ball in the centre circle and it skipped up into the air.

Although 45 yards from goal, Taylor tied his luck after spotting Howard off his line, and powered a left-foot volley over the American keeper and under the crossbar.

It was the midfielder's fourth goal of the season and was reminiscent of a similar opportunist effort against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light last season.

The goal stunned both sets of fans but Everton were nearly level six minutes later when Lee Carsley's ball found Beattie whose flick was somehow pushed aside by a sprawling David James before eluding the lurking Johnson.

At the other end, Alan Stubbs timed his tackle perfectly to prevent Benjani turning in on goal, shoving Joleon Lescott out of the way in the process.

Kanu's strike was as perfectly despatched as Taylor's, the Nigerian volleying in O'Neil's cross even though Joseph Yobo should have cleared.

A Benjani header from a corner, Taylor's fizzing free-kick - just over - and Sean Davis's optimistic long-range lob - might have put Pompey out of sight by the interval on another day.

The second half was a tale of Pompey contentedly resisting Everton's desperate but uninspired comeback.

Toffees boss David Moyes remodelled his team with a double switch that brought on Victor Anichebe and James McFadden for Beattie and David Weir.

But Kanu could have had a penalty had he not fallen spectacularly after a collision with Howard, chasing O'Neil's flick-on into the area in the 57th minute.

At the end, James was the star man behind a an iron-clad defence, keeping out McFadden and Yobo with aplomb.

Otherwise, it really was all too easy for Pompey.

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