x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Portsmouth banish Blues

As Portsmouth's roller coaster season received a much-needed high with a place in the semi-finals of the FA Cup, Avram Grant hailed the spirit of the club.

Liam Ridgewell's
Liam Ridgewell's "goal" which crossed the line but was not given was the slice of luck the cash-strapped Portsmouth club needed.

As Portsmouth's roller coaster season received a much-needed high with a place in the semi-finals of the FA Cup, Avram Grant hailed the spirit of the club. Two goals from Frederic Piquionne gave them a 2-0 win against Birmingham yesterday to book the cash-strapped club a return to Wembley.

And their manager Grant was emotionally overwhelmed as he said: "This is more than football. All these people, players and supporters, are so happy. I'm very proud. Some things in your life you never forget, and this is one of those moments. I was in the Champions League final [with Chelsea] and was happy, this is the same. You can break many things, but you can't break our spirit." Two years ago, they won the competition, but now, with administration and the threat of liquidation, they are just hoping to be able to fulfil their commitments in this campaign.

For Grant, the achievement of his players is nothing short of remarkable following a fraught campaign that has seen them have four different owners, suffer delayed wages and slump to the bottom of the Premier League. Their win over the Blues will provide urgent funds, but the financial future was still uncertain as Grant admitted: "We don't know what will happen in the next hour or day. The one thing we can do is keep the spirit of the team, try to play good football in the right style with the right tactics and tell everyone we will respect any rule.

"I always say to respect rules, but rules need to be logical. This club deserves more than anyone to be at Wembley because the players and fans are victims of things done by others. I will say it again and again until someone listens." The match winner Piquionne added: "It's been difficult for everyone recently so that win has lifted everyone and made us smile again." akhan@thenational.ae