Aaron Mokoena reflected on what could have been at Chelsea and insisted: We showed we have quality.
Mokoena is adamant yesterday’s 4-0 FA Cup loss at Stamford Bridge didn’t tell the story of the game.
Four second-half goals – with the final three efforts arriving in the last seven minutes – did the damage against the Premier League big guns.
Pompey had their moments, though, and Mokoena is certain things could have been very different if the visitors had taken their chances.
Dave Kitson was the first to have a sighter after just 28 seconds but wasted the early opportunity.
And there were plenty of other chances for Michael Appleton’s side, too, with David Norris and Mokoena going close in the first-half.
The Blues also had three chances in the space of a few seconds after the break.
But a combination of Petr Cech’s saves and a goal-line clearance from John Terry denied Marko Futacs, Joel Ward and Norris.
Mokoena knows his team had to make the most of those opportunities against quality opposition.
But he believes there was much to admire about his team’s performance.
And that provides cause for optimism moving forward this season.
Mokoena said: ‘There was no way the scoreline told the story of the game.
‘But it was tough from the first minute.
‘There were chances for us, though.
‘There were chances for us to get back into the game and if we’d taken one of them it could have been a different story.
‘But it’s done now and the most important thing is how we come back from this. I thought we played well in the first-half.
‘They came out in the second-half and upped the pressure on us.
‘You have to appreciate the quality of players they have but we have showed that there is quality in this team as well.
‘We are coming to a quality outfit – so you have to expect a tough game.
‘But credit to the boys.
‘We kept at it and were in the game until late on.
‘We just have to work hard to put right the mistakes we made and move forward.’
The game’s crucial moment arrived when Juan Mata made the breakthrough two minutes after the restart.
There appeared to be a handball in the build-up to that goal, though, as Ashley Cole tussled with Dave Kitson.
Mokoena refused to blame that for leading to his team’s downfall, however.
He felt more resilient defending from Pompey was needed, regardless of Cole using his hand.
The Blues knew they were likely to face a Chelsea onslaught after stoically withstanding their first-half pressure.
The South African believes Pompey needed to handle that better.
Mokoena said: ‘We knew they would come back at us in the second-half and we had to keep it together.
‘They got their goal early. There was talk of handball but we really can’t use that as an excuse.
‘They could have had a shout for handball in the first-half when I turned away from the ball and it hit me.
‘So I don’t really like to talk about these things and say they were the reason for losing.
‘We needed to keep it stronger at the back.
‘I appreciate the players they have but we should have done better.’