ON THIS DAY: Pompey 1 Cardiff City 0

Kanu ended a 69-year wait for Pompey's second FA Cup triumph on May 17, 2008.

Thursday, 17th May 2018, 6:00 am
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 8:26 am
Pompey celebrate their success. Picture: Will Caddy (082225-52)

Here we look back at the Sports Mail match report, penned by chief sports writer Neil Allen, on that historic day at Wembley...
The wait is finally over – the FA Cup is finally back in Pompey’s hands.

The man they call King Kanu will now forever be south-coast royalty after grabbing the only goal of the game to see off Cardiff City.

The Nigerian hit the winner on 37 minutes when he reacted to Peter Enckelman’s fumble from John Utaka’s deflected cross to stab home.

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Kanu nets the winner for Pompey. Picture: Allan Hutchings (082211-035)

That proved enough to bring the FA Cup back to Fratton Park for the first time since they won it in 1939.

Harry Redknapp’s heroes will now compete in Europe for the first time in the club’s history, capping another outstanding season.

Eighth position in the Premier League and now the FA Cup is the culmination of yet more magic from that man Redknapp, who keeps on performing his heroics.

Now Portsmouth will celebrate as they will never have done before.

The FA Cup holders 2008: Portsmouth Football Club.

Pompey were given a tantalising glimpse of the atmosphere which awaited them at Wembley when they made their way on to the pitch an hour before kick-off.

Decked in their Jeff Banks suits, it was their first opportunity to survey the stage they were set to perform on.

Many looked understandably pensive, while others, such as Sylvain Distin, maintained their focus by wearing earphones.

The biggest cheer, though, was saved for Linvoy Primus, who wasn’t even on the bench.

Pompey’s longest-serving player was greeted with chants of ‘Linvoy, Linvoy’ from the Blues faithful, prompting a wave and a big smile from the popular defender.

When Redknapp’s side emerged in match kit some 20 minutes later, the Pompey flags were in full flight, dwarfing the efforts of the Cardiff contingent.

There was a shock in store as well for Blues fans when the team was unveiled for the very first time.

Pedro Mendes was given the nod ahead of Papa Bouba Diop in a surprise move by Redknapp.

Earlier in the week, Pompey had trained with the 4-5-1 system, with Mendes in that same role – as we revealed in The News on Wednesday.

However, there were many eyebrows raised when the Portuguese midfielder was named in the side on Wembley day.

Meanwhile, Kanu was chosen to lead the attack as the lone striker, with David Nugent and Milan Baros on the bench.

Noe Pamarot was also there, his versatility and ability to operate at centre-half earning him the nod ahead of FA Cup final veteran Lauren.

There was amusement during the traditional rendition of Abide With Me when Katherine Jenkins’ microphone stopped working during the second verse.

Then there was the inevitable pantomime booing of both the Wales and England national anthems from the opposing supporters.

Redknapp’s last act before the game was to hug his players individually and wish them all the best.

It was a touching moment from a man on the brink of winning his first major honour in the game.

Once the game kicked off the teams showed no signs of early nerves, with both keepers called in to action during the opening exchanges.

Pompey were certainly not affected by the same nerves which hampered their early progress against West Brom in the semi-final.

However, there were several players who found it difficult to keep their feet on the skiddy surface, dampened by pre-match showers.

Cardiff were also looking fearless and David James had to save well from Paul Parry in the 13th minute, while moments later Peter Whittingham’s drive was deflected narrowly wide with the keeper beaten.

Early on it looked like this year’s Cup final was certainly going to be an entertaining affair.

Kanu conjured up arguably one of the biggest FA Cup final misses when he somehow fired wide from three yards out.

A fine move down the left between Hermann Hreidarsson and Sulley Muntari presented the Nigerian with the ball.

And after cleverly losing his marker Glenn Loovens and dribbling around the keeper, he somehow contrived to smack the ball against the outside of the post with the goal at his mercy.

You could hear the Pompey fans’ frustration building, particularly with referee Mike Dean.

Ironic cheers greeted his decision on 30 minutes to award a foul against Gavin Rae on Mendes, the supporters unhappy with the lack of decisions they were winning.

But the frustration turned to relief on 37 minutes when Utaka’s cross from the right was not collected and Enckelman could only palm the ball out.

There was Kanu two yards out this time to steer the ball home, giving Pompey the lead.

It prompted the most bizarre goal celebration from the Nigerian, while Wembley exploded with Pompey’s jubilation.

It was the crucial breakthrough which largely, aside from Kanu’s earlier miss, did not look like happening.

Cardiff, in particular, were looking dangerous on the counter-attack – Parry’s movement a constant menace, with Blues skipper Sol Campbell struggling to contain him.

Meanwhile, wingers Niko Kranjcar and Utaka were struggling to get involved sufficiently to cause the Bluebirds damage.

Deep into first-half stoppage-time, Loovens thought he had pulled Cardiff level with a lofted half-volley from just inside the area.

But referee Dean cut short the celebrations by adjudging the Dutchman had handled earlier in the move.

Pompey went in at the break with that lead and the knowledge they were just 45 minutes away from lifting the FA Cup.

With the Blues in control of the scoreline, they opened the second half content to keep the ball.

Undoubtedly, Redknapp’s side had the more talented players and they made full use of that with some patient play to starve Cardiff of possession.

Kanu could have grabbed a second goal on 53 minutes when the outstanding Lassana Diarra surged down the left and pulled the ball back to the veteran striker, whose effort was deflected wide.

As for Cardiff, they were unable to keep possession of the ball, let alone launch an attempt at grabbing an equaliser.

On 69 minutes, Utaka was replaced by Nugent, with the winger appearing to be hobbling slightly, suggesting the substitution was forced.

It meant Nugent was positioned on the right-hand side of Pompey’s midfield – a role he only previously featured in occasionally for Preston.

Cardiff themselves brought on whizkid Aaron Ramsey and striker Steve Thompson in place of Whittingham and Hasselbaink.

The move was designed to pep up the Bluebirds, although their fans appeared to have already lost heart with the majority of their section sat in silence while Pompey continued to dominate.

It was sensible stuff from Redknapp’s troops, knowing they were in the driving seat with no need to chase the game.

There was even an opportunity for Pompey fans to resurrect the Quashie chant in tribute to Joe Ledley, whose ambitious long-range effort was well wide.

Four minutes of extra-time was indicated by the fourth official, prompting a nervy finish amid plenty of whistles from the Blues followers.

But hold on they did to truly emotional scenes at Wembley for the club’s greatest day for 69 years.

Pompey: David James, Glen Johnson, Sol Campbell, Sylvain Distin, Herman Hreidarsson, Pedro Mendes (Papa Bouba Diop, 78min), Lassana Diarra, Sulley Muntari, John Utaka (David Nugent, 69min), Niko Kranjcar, Kanu (Milan Baros, 87min). Subs not used: Jamie Ashdown, Noe Pamarot

Cardiff City: Peter Enckelman, Kevin McNaughton, Glenn Loovens, Roger Johnson, Tony Capaldi, Joe Ledley, Gavin Rae (Trevor Sinclair, 86min), Stephen McPhail, Peter Whittingham (Aaron Ramsey, 61min), Paul Parry, Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink (Steven Thompson, 70min). Subs not used: Michael Oakes, Darren Purse