Diouf fires Whites into European big time
May 7, 2005 Premier League Portsmouth 1 Wanderers 1
Ahead of Saturday’s trip to Portsmouth, Gordon Sharrock looks back to when history was made at Fratton Park
EL-HADJI Diouf was snubbed, jeered and dragged off seven minutes from time for his own good.
But the Senegal striker sported a satisfied smile as he left the Fratton Park pitch, confident that his 11th-minute goal had fired Wanderers into Europe for the first time in their 131-year history.
His team-mates had to wait for confirmation of scores elsewhere to be sure that they had, indeed, qualified for the UEFA Cup. But the celebrations of the fans who travelled to the south coast told the players just what they wanted to hear.
Sam Allardyce’s Wanderers – inspired by seasoned European campaigners such as N’Gotty, Hierro, Speed and Stelios – should not really have been sweating. They were streets ahead of Portsmouth but just couldn’t make more of their dominance, and that ultimately cost them the win they deserved when Yakubu equalised.
Nevertheless, there was no disguising Diouf’s delight as he had the last laugh on the Pompey fans who booed his every touch – a legacy of having spat in the face of their captain Arjen De Zeeuw in the game at the Reebok earlier that season.
De Zeeuw, understandably, refused to shake hands with him before the game and the attention paid to the controversial African suggested Allardyce was justified in thinking long and hard before deciding to play him.
As it happened, Diouf didn’t get to go the distance – substituted seven minutes from time after a reckless and needless challenge on Matty Taylor.
But that was just a sideshow to the main event, which the supporters acknowledged at the final whistle when they belted out “We’re all going on a European tour” to their hearts’ content.
Phil Brown, who in a 17-year love affair with the club had seen Wanderers rise from the football wilderness to qualify for Europe, described the achievement as Allardyce’s “crowning glory”.
Allardyce gave the credit to his players, hailing them the best Bolton team ever.
Portsmouth: Ashdown; Primus, Stefanovic, De Zeeuw, Taylor; Kamara (Keene 60), Mezague (Cisse 77), Skopolitis (Fuller 60), Hughes, O’Neil; Yakubu. Not used: Rodic, Hislop.
Wanderers: Jaaskelainen; Candela (Jaidi 76), Ben Haim, N’Gotty, Gardner; Okocha, Hierro, Speed; Stelios (Nolan 55), Davies, Diouf (Pedersen 83). Not used: Fadiga, Poole.
Referee: Matt Messias (York).