x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

James blunder costs Pompey

Portsmouth exit the Uefa Cup at the hands of Wolfsburg due to a David James error, while Aston Villa advance to the round of 32 despite losing to MSK Zilina.

Portsmouth's goalkeeper David James gestures during the Uefa Cup Group E football match against Wolfsburg.
Portsmouth's goalkeeper David James gestures during the Uefa Cup Group E football match against Wolfsburg.

A typical error by goalkeeper David James allowed Wolfsburg to beat Portsmouth 3-2 last night and advance to the round of 32 in the Uefa Cup, while the English FA Cup holders waved goodbye to the competition. James, who has a history of costly errors, tried to kick away a back pass but instead placed the ball at the feet of Zvijezdan Misimovic, who rounded the England custodian and put the ball into the empty net in the 74th minute to seal Wolfsburg's come-from-behind victory. James partly redeemed himself five minutes later, when he dived to his right to stop Misimovic's penalty, but it was too little too late as the Germans advanced. Wolfsburg went ahead in third minute, but Portsmouth hit back within three minutes to take a 2-1 lead after goals from Jermain Defoe and Arnold Mvuemba. Wolfsburg's Christian Gentner restored parity in the 23rd minute before Misimovic took advantage of James's error to send the Bundesliga side through. Because of Braga's 2-1 win at SC Heerenveen, Wolfsburg joined AC Milan in advancing from Group E.

Aston Villa midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker blamed silly mistakes for his side's surprise Uefa Cup defeat to MSK Zilina. Villa lost 2-1 at Villa Park after goals from Vladimir Leitner and Peter Styvar gave the Slovakians a two-goal lead with only 19 minutes gone. Nathan Delfouneso pulled a goal back on his full debut and, although Villa could not find an equaliser, they still advanced to the last 32 of the competition thanks to other results in the group going their way. "I don't think we started well enough and we made silly mistakes and from then on it was going to be an uphill struggle," Reo-Coker said. "The (changed) team was given a job to go out and perform and prove you deserve to play and we simply didn't play well enough in the first half. "You never like to lose games but we can't let it affect us, we have an important league game on Sunday (against Everton)."