A second-half show of force inspired Pompey to victory at Carlisle today
Three magnificent strikes from Gary Roberts, Amine Linganzi and substitute Jack Whatmough handed the Blues a major boost in their hopes of automatic promotion as they secured a thumping 3-0 win at Brunton Park.
At the same time, too, it dealt a major blow to the Cumbrians who remain in third place - three points ahead - with Paul Cook’s side now breathing down their necks with a game in hand.
Roberts led the charge for the Blues, who produced the killer blows in this League Two heavyweight battle.
His sublime effort on 73 minutes, with the outside of his left foot after powering his way through the middle of the home defence, was just reward for an impressive second-half performance.
Linganzi made it 2-0 seven minutes later with a stunning strike from 30 yards that gave keeper Mark Gillespie no chance.
And to add the cherry to the top of the cake, Whatmough added a third on 90 minutes to hand the Blues an impressive victory on the road.
Eoin Doyle had the chance to rub salt into the wounds of the hosts deep into injury-time, but skied his effort over the bar.
Up until Roberts’ opener, both teams shared a scrappy opening first half.
Carlisle thought they served up the perfect start when Jamie Proctor’s effort ended up in the back of the net - but the linesman’s flag was immediately raised and the goal was disallowed for offside.
The Blues’ response was immediate, with the recalled Carl Baker forcing a fine save out of home keeper Mark Gillespie from 30 yards out.
A scrappy game then ensued, with the home side pressing more with intent.
David Forde had to be alert to deny Nicky Adams after he was put through, before substitute Tom Miller saw his goal-bound effort bravely blocked by Gary Roberts.
At the other end, Roberts saw his free-kick go agonisingly wide on 37 minutes, before late drama at both ends.
Firstly, the home side had strong appeals for a penalty turned down when Gareth Evans appeared to handle on the edge of the box.
Then, within seconds, Eoin Doyle somehow fired over with the goal at his mercy.
In the second half, the Blues came out all guns blazing.
Doyle saw an effort ruled out for offside, while Enda Stevens and Baker saw efforts cleared off the line.
Carlisle responded with Proctor missing a sitter in front of goal and John O’Sullivan forcing a good save from Forde.
But that was it as far as the home challenge was concerned as Robert’s sublime effort opened the floodgates for an impressive victory for Pompey.