Grant's Pompey fight for the Cup: minute by minute

Two years after losing in the Carling Cup final with Chelsea, Avraham Grant was back at Wembley - and the JPost followed him there.

By JEREMY LAST
May 15, 2010 16:16
Avram Grant (AP).

avram grant good 311. (photo credit: AP)

For the first time ever an Israeli coach has led his team to the final of the world's best cup competition: Avraham Grant is back at Wembley, but this time for the FA Cup final.

Mazaltov Chelsea, commiserations Avraham. Looking forward to you're next cup final.

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Grant has brought all his team and staff into the pitch in a circle, presumably to wish them all luck for the future. It will be a very different Portsmouth set up next year. He now goes to applaud the Portsmouth supporters who have fallen in love with him.

Grant is going around congratulating his players on the pitch. It is the third time he has lost a final with an English team after losing the Carling Cup final and Champions League finals with Chelsea. Good luck to the man though. His team did infinitely better than Wigan last weekend, although of course with much more to play for.

"94 - FULL TIME - CHELSEA 1, PORTSMOUTH 0
Chris Boyd blows his whistle and Chelsea has won the cup and clinched an historic double.
In the end the Blues were the better team, even though Portsmouth put up a fight. Grant's boys didn't have enough fire power and will, of course rue the missed penalty.

"92 - Grant looks gormless and a little desperate on the sidelines.

"91 - We're into added time as Sturridge comes on for Anelka. It's all but over now.

"89 - The penalty was close but replays show how it just skidded to the left of James's post.

"88 LAMPARD MISSES PENALTY
Who could have predicted that! Lampard always scores. Now Portsmouth have a couple of minutes to do what Chelsea did half an hour ago and go and score at the other end after preventing a goal from a penalty.

"88 PENALTY FOR CHELSEA
Brown brings Lampard down in the box.

"86 - Wow Utaka is really bad. He totally mistimed his jump and failed to connect on a cross from the wing which was at least a half chance. Now the Chelsea supporters are in full song. About five minutes to go and it doesn't look like it will be Grant's day. The Israeli commentators think it still can be but they're a bit too optimistic.

"84 - The entire crowd appears to be on their feet - Chelsea fans sure they're going to see their team win, Portsmouth's dreaming of an equalizer.

"82 - Alex lets Dinadane in from a cross which bobbles across the goalmouth but the Frenchman can't make it count. At last Portsmouth are pushing up, unfortunately ending with Utaka miskicking and lobbing the ball inexplicably over the crossbar!

"80 - Well well, call me a predictor, here comes Kanu! The man who won the cup for Portsmouth two years ago is coming on for the last ten minutes.

"79 - Grant is seen muttering on the sidelines as Utaka powers down the wing but again fails to make a pass which counts. Not sure if it was the right man to bring in, especially with Kanuuuuu on the bench.

"74 SUB - Finally Grant makes a change - John Utaka comes on for Prince-Boateng who can't be happy after missing that penalty 15 minutes ago. Can the Nigerian forward make a difference?

"72 - James saves from Drogba, a defender stops Cole, but the Chelsea battering ram is knocking at Portsmouth's door and there's less than 20 minutes to play.

"70 - Talk about wind out of sails. Our man Avraham better make a substitution soon because Portsmouth's players have lost all the fight they had in them. But no, its a Carlo sub with Joe Cole coming on for Kalou who has missed two too many.

"63 - Ooh that was close. Kalou's close range shot just whipped wide.

"62 - After Drogba's sixth Wembley goal Pompey are on the backfoot. Chelsea is attacking now without holding back.

"58 - GOOOOOOOOAL - Chelsea 1, Portsmouth 0
Drogba fires in his free kick to James's right and gives the England 'keeper little chance, although he comes close to getting a touch. Now it's going to be tough for Portsmouth.

"57 - Avraham must be a little upset at that miss, but he has to be happy with the effort his boys have put in. Now Chelsea has a free kick at the other end and Drogba is lining it up ominously.

"56 - CECH SAVES PENALTY - Terribly weak effort from Boateng who hardly strikes the penalty shot and makes it easy for the Czech goalkeeper to save and keep the scores at 0-0.

"55 - PENALTY TO PORTSMOUTH - Steve Finnan looks like his his old Liverpool self gets it through to Dindane who is brought down by Belletti.

"50 - The Portsmouth players are holding their own in the opening stages of the second half and Prince-Boateng should have done better when brought the ball down from a free kick but volleyed high and wide. He is rightly upset with himself.

"45 - And we're back. Avraham emerges to take his place with a sort of determined look on his face and the whites kick off.

HALF TIME

"48 - At last the ref blows for half time. An amazing first half has finished 0-0 despite Chelsea hitting the woodwork an incredible five times. Portsmouth have put up and impressive fight and even come close to scoring a few times but will need to do more if Grant is going to get his hands on the famous Cup.

"47 - Ashley Cole volleys well wide of James's goal. Grant's boys are desperate for the half time whistle.

"45 The Fourth official indicates Three Minutes added time.

"45 - Twenty seconds before injury time and James proves to be the Portsmouth hero once again, saving from a few different attackers.

"43 - Ballack is back on the pitch but is limping and is being replaced by Juliano Belletti

"42 - James dives and saves at the feet of Drogba as "Portsmouth till I die" fills the ground. The Ivorian striker hits the goal post in frustration.

"39 - ANOTHER LET OFF FOR POMPEY, Drogba's freekick is inches from going over the line but James saves it, pushes it against the underside of the crossbar and it bounces exactly on the goal line. Half time approaches and the boys in white won't let the ball in, not yet at least.

"38 - Ballacks been on the ground for a few minutes and is now being helped off by the physio. No substitution yet.

"35 - Ten minutes to half time and its still, somehow, 0-0. Kevin Boateng is just getting a yellow card for fowling Ballack, but Grant will be more than happy with the situation, while Carlo looks extremely unhappy. Long way to go though.
Dindane could have even scored a minute ago but he fluffed the chance.

"30 - Now John Terry hits the crossbar, with a header this time. The ball just won't go in for Chelsea. Grant has to hope his team can grow in confidence.

"28 - My gosh! How did Kalou just hit the crossbar from a couple of meters out!!! Amazing.

"27 - It's also great to see the FA Cup Final back in it's place as the real soccer showcase. For a few years, especially when Man Utd decided not to compete in order to play in the joke competition that was the World Club Championships, it became far less important. But today's final is a real occasion.

"26 - I must say it's lovely to see Hayden Mullins at Wembley. I used to watch him play for Crystal Palace as a young lad. The boy's done good.

"22 - Now the Portsmouth supporters are on their feet. Dindane stormed down the right and crossed perfectly for Piquionne whose sharp half volley was well saved. Is it time for a change of pace?

"20 - Another sustained Portsmouth attack, this time down the right, comes to nothing, despite a few throw ins close to the area. It's not going to be simple. At the other end the Mokoena blocks two Drogba shots in a quick succession.

"18 - Here are the Pompey chimes - "Play up pompey" sung by the Portsmouth fans.

"17 - Does Bouba-Dioup think he's playing volleyball?? He practically punched the ball away just now!

"15 - Grant gets out his seat, waves his arms a bit and walks to the edge of his area next to the Portsmouth bench. Is he concerned or excited? A bit of both?

"14 - Lampard's long range effort cracks against the post and then James saves well to his right from a stinging Anelka shot. They're on the ropes now. Can Pompey survive?

"13 - Grant will have to be satisfied with his team's efforts so far, with Portsmouth managing to keep Chelsea out while breaking on the counter attack.

"11 - Following on from his superb performance against Wigan, Anelka is once again looking like one of the most threatening Chelsea players this afternoon. And who brought the Frenchman previously known as Le Sulk to the Bridge - well it was no one other than Grant in one of his only signings in January 2008.

"7 Our first look at Grant on the sidelines, and he is, as usual, looking dowdy, head in his hand, resting on his knee. He knows it's not going to be easy but if he wins and denies the Chelsea double he would have made history.
Incidentally, as well as this probably being the last game in a Portsmouth kit for most of these players as the club will be forced to sell in the summer, Grant looks to have profited from his team's impressive showings and is being linked with a move to a number of top clubs, most prominently West Ham. Will we see the man with the long face take control of the team where Yossi Benyaoun and Eyal Berkovic made their mark? Let's wait and see.

"4 Woahhh. Lampard and Anelka carve their way through the Pompey back line and Lamp's shot just whizzes wide of David James's goal. First scare for Avraham!

"2 Grant seems to have eductated his players this week about how to defend together against the dominating Chelsea threat, and so far the team in white is holding off its opponents.

"1 - And we're off. It's Grant's 4-2-3-1 formation against Chelsea's 4-3-3 which demolished Wigan 8-0 on Saturday.

KO -1 - The Portsmouth players get in a huddle. Chelsea, in blue, kick off, Pompey, in white, ready to defend.

KO -2 - There aren't any surprises in the Chelsea line up. Cech; Ivanovic, Alex, Terry, Ashley Cole; Lampard, Ballack, Malouda; Anelka, Drogba, Kalou.
Subs: Hilario, Joe Cole, Zhirkov, Paulo Ferreira, Sturridge, Matic, Bellett
Avraham has chosen to leave fellow Israeli Tal Ben-Haim on the bench.
His starting line up is James; Finnan, Rocha, Mokoena, Mullins; Brown, Diop; Boateng, O'Hara, Piquionne; Dindane.
Subs: Ashdown, Utaka, Vanden Borre, Hughes, Ben-Haim, Kanu, Belhadj.

KO -3 - Chelsea captain John Terry looks focused as he sings the national anthems. He's dreaming of leading the Blues to the club's first league and Cup double in history. Let's see if Chelsea can be stopped by the most unlikeliest of finalists.

KO -4 - Grant is introducing Prince William to the teams. Not sure what he has said there but hopefully he practiced it first. His English is far from perfect!

KO -7 - The new Wembley really is a great stadium. As I wrote below, I was there for the England vs Israel game in September 2007 and was constantly impressed by its tight atmosphere as well as superb press facilities (I recommend the lasagna!)

KO -8 - Here come the teams. Avraham looks great in his FA Cup suit, as does his Chelsea counterpart Carlo Ancelloti.

KO -11- It is amazing how Grant has transformed the perception of him from a dodgy wheelerdealer into a loveable cute tubby man. There have been plenty of positive articles written about him in the English press recently, although The Sun's Shaun Custis managed to slate him in the red top last week.

Kick off minus 13 minutes - Wembley Stadium looks pristine and packed to capacity.
Here in Israel most soccer fans are rooting for the team from the south coast and our very own Avraham Grant - please note that until he moved to England a few years ago he was never known as "Avram". We at the 'Jerusalem Post' refuse to use his new name, it would be like me deciding to call myself "Jez Last" in print (or ex-Man Utd striker Andy Cole trying to convince people he should be called Andrew!)

4:45 p.m. Israel time - and we're off - now we're seeing the teams arriving earlier this afternoon. We are in for a fascinating afternoon, the team with the most money in England against the club in administration. The Premier League champions against the team which finished bottom. And most intriguingly, Israeli coach Avraham Grant against his former employees, Chelsea, which he took to the Champions League final only two years ago.

4:43 p.m. Israel time - Seventeen minutes to kick off and Sport1 is showing a feature about a horse jumping competition. Hope we get Wembley on our screens soon.
It's a balmy 30 degrees here in Jerusalem, better than in north west London where 17 degrees and light rain is predicted.

2:30 p.m. Israel time - Well one Israel underdog has already been demolished by a far more experienced and skillful opponent this afternoon - let's hope tennis star Shahar Pe'er's 6-3, 6-0 defeat to Venus Williams in the Madrid Open a few minutes ago doesn't prove to be a bad omen for Grant and his Portsmouth troops.

2:18 pm. Israel time - There's less than three hours to kick off and, while the excitement is already building around Wembley Stadium, but Sport2 coverage here in Israel won't begin till 15 minutes before the game (although there's a half hour preview program on before that). Right now they're showing  a replay of Portsmouth's stunning FA Cup semifinal win over Spurs which set up this afternoon's mouthwatering clash with Grant's former employee, Chelsea.

2:12 p.m. Israel time - Welcome to The Jerusalem Post's online coverage of Israeli coach Avraham Grant's exploits with his Portsmouth team in the English FA Cup final.
Sports Editor Jeremy Last here to bring all the latest news and views from the Israeli perspective.
Unfortunately I haven't been flown to London (like I was for the England vs Israel game three years ago - more about the luxurious Wembley press section later!) so I'll be following the game on Israeli TV and attempting to analyze the local commentators while providing my own indomitable insights.


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