Brian McBride grabbed a point for Fulham with a late equaliser at Portsmouth as the south coast side all but secured their Premiership status for another season.
The American international fired home a rocket of a strike from fully thirty yards to cancel out Yakubu’s close range finish after a mistake from Edwin van der Sar. McBride spurned a simpler chance to claim all three points in stoppage time when he failed to turn home Junichi Inamoto’s inviting cross from only eight yards out.
Harry Redknapp professed himself happy with the point that probably ensured survival as his side amassed their seventeen point from the last 21. His side might have been out of sight long before Yakubu punished a poor bit of goalkeeping from van der Sar had they been slightly more ruthless in front of goal and capitalised on a bright start.
Pompey could have been out of sight by half time but Lomana LuaLua and Yakubu squandered presentable chances before the on-loan Newcastle forward glanced finish against the outside of the post. With Luis Boa Morte horribly isolated as Fulham’s lone striker, it was no surprise that Pompey enjoyed both the lion’s share of possession and the better chances. Russian midfielder Alexei Smertin caught the eye from the outset – bossing the game from a central position – but Portsmouth were profligate in the final third.
Yakubu headed wastefully over from an excellent LuaLua cross before the on-loan Newcastle man spooned a finish hopelessly wide of goal as van der Sar scurried out to narrow the angle when he found himself through after latching onto a long punt forward. LuaLua then rattled the outside of the post from an acute angle after breezing away from Fulham’s central defenders and the visitors headed in at half-time fortunate to be on level terms.
There was more bite to Fulham’s football after the break, typified by the way Sylvain Legwinski and Junichi Inamoto snapped into tackles before setting up Sean Davis, whose powerful drive crashed off the crossbar, just eighteen seconds into the second period. Yakubu and Smertin tested van der Sar’s handling before Legwinski drove through a host of challenges to reach the Portsmouth penalty area only to lose his composure and blaze over the bar.
Inamoto drove a shot wide and then produced a brave block to prevent Richard Duffy from opening the goal. Portsmouth kept plugging away and got their reward ten minutes from time when Matt Taylor’s cross from the left was mishandled by van der Sar and Yakubu steered the loose ball into the net. But the home side’s lead lasted only five minutes before McBride’s majestic finish stunned Fratton Park. The American would rather reflect on that magnificent effort rather than the more presentable chance he squandered deep into injury-time. As it was, Fulham could hardly complain about heading back to London with a point.
PORTSMOUTH (4-4-2): Hislop; Primus (Duffy 22), Stefanovic, De Zeeuw, Taylor; Smertin, Faye, Quashie, Stone; LuaLua, Yakubu (Sheringham 90). Subs (not used): Wapenaar, Berkovic, Harper.
GOAL: Yakubu (80).
FULHAM (4-5-1): van der Sar; Volz, Bocanegra, Goma, Pearce; Djetou (McBride 77), Legwinski, Davis, Inamoto, Malbranque; Boa Morte (John 85). Subs (not used): Crossley, Hudson, Petta.
BOOKED: Legwinski, Bocanegra, Inamoto, Goma.
GOAL: McBride (85).
REFEREE: Steve Dunn (Gloucestershire).