Sibierski finally seals a victory for Newcastle
November 27, 2006 6:21pm CST
Substitute Antoine Sibierski has cemented his new status as a favourite of the Newcastle United fans by scoring the decisive goal in a 1-0 victory over Portsmouth here. The goal was marked made in France as Sibierski, who replaced James Milner in the closing moments of the first-half, struck from close range following a cross by his fellow-countryman Charles N'Zogbia. His fifth goal for the club brought Newcastle their first Premiership victory in 10 games and was thoroughly deserved against a Portsmouth side who were anonymous for the entire 90 minutes Sunday. Portsmouth, without a win a St James's Park for 57 years, have now lost their last four away games and could have gone down on this occasion by a far wider margin. The threat from Harry Redknapp's team was negligible against a Newcastle defence which again featured their Peruvian winger Nolberto Solano in an unfamiliar right-back role in the absence of Stephen Carr. But Redknapp's team did almost score with their first attack of the match after five minutes. It was sparked by Gary O'Neil, who broke down the right before Nwankwo Kanu collected his cross and found space for a shot that was blocked by Solano near the line. That proved to be their final clear opportunity of a first-half largely controlled by Newcastle, who had to send on substitute Nicky Butt in place of injured skipper Scott Parker after only 24 minutes. By then, they had already worried Portsmouth keeper David James on several ooccasions, notably when he had to go down at the feet of Kieron Dyer in the sixth minute. James was also beaten by a lob from Parker which drifted wide of the far post and was rescued by a controversial decision by an assistant referee in the 17th minute. Obafemi Martins, Newcastle's Nigerian striker, chipped the ball over James after a marvellous through ball from Dyer, but was ajudged to be marginally offside. However, the keeper's best save of the opening half was from one of his own players, Pedro Mendes, in the 39th minute. Linvoy Primus lashed a clearance against Mendes and the ball rebounded off the Portugal international and towards goal before James reacted superbly to turn it over the bar. Long-range efforts from Emre also went close in the final stages of a half when United were unable to conjure up the goal that their possession and patient approach warranted. And they suffered further disruption seconds before the interval when James Milner was concussed and had to be replaced by Antoine Sibierski. Milner's exit proved to be a blow to United because Dyer was switched to the left-wing from a central role and much of their threat went with him. They took time to adapt to the new line-up, but finally produced a good move in the 57th minute when Martins turned quickly on the edge of the area and drilled a shot over the bar. James also had to shovel away a shot by Sibierski at the end of a break instigated by Dyer, who went past four defenders before setting up the substitute. But United were far less incisive than before the interval and Portsmouth, still lacking ambition and enterprise, clearly began to sense that they had coped with the best that Newcastle could offer. How wrong they proved to be. With 69 minutes gone, Martins sent N'Zogbia clear down the left and Sibierski, in an offside position at the start of the move, steered in the cross. And there could have been further goals for Newcastle in the closing stages as James saved well from Sibierski, Emre and Dyer, while Martins was off-target with a glorious chance seven minutes from the end.