On this day: Mendes sparks Pompey’s Great Escape

Sam Magri in action against Brighton in July 2012. Pic: Toby Barton

Pompey to face Premier League club in friendly

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On March 8, 2006, Pompey began their Great Escape and avoided relegation from the Premier League in remarkable fashion.

Pedro Mendes’ double – both of which were sublime strikes, with his second coming in the dying stages of the game – inspired the Blues to their maiden victory of the year as they defeated Manchester City 2-1 at Fratton Park.

Pedro Mendes scores his winner against Manchester City.

Pedro Mendes scores his winner against Manchester City.

Speaking to The News after the win, the Portuguese midfielder said: ‘We deserved to win. City’s equalising goal was unfair to us – I think my second goal was some justice to us.

‘Even after they equalised we had other chances. Unfortunately, it has been difficult to score, not only in this game but other games we’ve had chances in. But we deserved the points.

‘This was a big game for us – what we really needed was three points, one was not enough.

‘But the day wasn’t about me, it was about all the Portsmouth supporters and players.

‘We have not been winning other games but the fans are always behind us and supporting us. There was a fantastic atmosphere and the fans deserved the win.

‘Staying up is definitely still possible. We have closed the gap between us and Birmingham and West Brom and with nine games to go there are 27 points, so it could be done.

‘Our morale is high now, the players are laughing in the dressing room and we have not seen that for a long time.’

The success moved Harry Redknapp’s side six points from safety and they went on a run that will live in Fratton folklore for years to come.

From their remaining nine fixtures of the campaign, Pompey would win five, draw two and lose two – although the 2-1 reverse against Liverpool on the final day of the campaign was a dead-rubber.

The Blues survived relegation on the second-last game of the season as they completed their Great Escape with a 2-1 victory at Wigan.