Tag Archives: Yakubu

Memorable Matches: Portsmouth 4-3 Fulham (August 2004)

Goalscorers: Eyal Berkovic 19, Yakubu 22 PEN, 28, 72, Andy Cole 39, Luis Boa Morte 41, Carlos Bocanegra 75

Teams:

Portsmouth: Shaka Hislop, Arjan de Zeeuw, Linvoy Primus, Dejan Stefanovic, David Unsworth, Nigel Quashie, Eyal Berkovic (Lomana Lualua 79), Steve Stone, Patrik Berger, Yakubu (Matt Taylor 88), Ricardo Fuller

Fulham: Edwin van der Sar, Carlos Bocanegra, Alain Goma, Zat Knight, Moritz Volz, Papa Bouba Diop, Sylvain Legwinski (Brian McBride 77), Claus Jensen, Luis Boa Morte, Andy Cole, Tomasz Radzinski (Collins John 68)

Referee: Barry Knight, Attendance: 19,728

Portsmouth were still awaiting their first victory of the 2004-2005 season as they welcomed Fulham to Fratton Park. Pompey had played a game less than most teams, so their position was slightly false ahead of kick-off whilst Fulham had one victory, one draw and one defeat to their name from their first three games of the season.

A feverish first half on the south coast saw five goals and a stunning opening 30 minutes from the home side. The pace of Yakubu would trouble Fulham’s backline all evening and this created the opening for the first goal, scored by Eyal Berkovic in the 19th minute. Three minutes later, Luis Boa Morte clumsily challenged debutant Ricardo Fuller and a penalty was given by referee Barry Knight. Yakubu made no mistake from 12-yards.

Fulham’s horrific opening spell continued on 28 minutes. Fuller put Yakubu through and with his right-foot shot; he defeated Edwin van der Sar once again. At this stage, it looked like a case of how many Portsmouth might end up with. However, one thing Chris Coleman had installed into his team was resolve and they weren’t going to lie down without a fight.

Six minutes before half-time, Boa Morte floated a tremendous cross from the left-wing over the head of Arjan de Zeeuw. Andy Cole made the most of the chance to beat Shaka Hislop and score his third Fulham goal since arriving in the summer from Blackburn Rovers.

Two minutes later, the Cottagers were right back in the contest. Claus Jensen played Boa Morte through and the Portuguese winger’s dramatic first half was concluded with his name joining those on the scoresheet. His shot managed to sneak through Hislop’s legs.

The end-to-end action continued in the second half. Berkovic nearly got his second of the evening with his goal-bound shot blocked by Moritz Volz whilst Boa Morte shot across the face of goal on 59 minutes having once again got the better of Linvoy Primus.

With 18 minutes left, Yakubu completed his hat-trick, firing home from close-range. Three minutes later, Carlos Bocanegra’s header at the back post saw Fulham get within a goal once again. However, they couldn’t find a way through again and Pompey held on for all three points.

Manager Harry Redknapp could raise a smile at the full-time whistle but by the end of November, he had left Portsmouth after disagreements with the club’s owner, Milan Mandaric. He took over at south coast rivals Southampton but ended the season with his first top-flight relegation. Fulham finished in 13th place.

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Premier League Files: Yakubu

Premier League Career: Portsmouth (2003-2005), Middlesbrough (2005-2007), Everton (2007-2010), Blackburn Rovers (2011-2012)

Known as “The Yak,” Yakubu is the finest Nigerian forward to have played in the Premier League. He enjoyed fruitful goalscoring spells with Portsmouth and Middlesbrough and was the star player in Blackburn Rovers dreadful 2011-2012 Premier League campaign which ended with relegation to the Championship.

He ended with 95 Premier League goals. Only Didier Drogba has scored more as an African player in the Premier League and was a fans’ favourite at all of the clubs he represented. At the age of 35, he decided to call it a day and retired in November 2017.

A real powerhouse of a striker, Yakubu first came to the notice of the English public with his performances in the UEFA Champions League for Israeli side Maccabi Haifa. In 2002, he scored a hat-trick against Olympiacos aged just 19 years and 306 days. He is one of only three teenagers, alongside Wayne Rooney and Raul to have scored a hat-trick in the Champions League. In the same year, he also scored a penalty in a 3-0 group stage win over an already qualified Manchester United.

Harry Redknapp took interest in his scoring exploits and signed Yakubu on-loan for Portsmouth in January 2003. He scored seven times in 14 matches to help Pompey achieve promotion to the Premier League. His loan stint became a permanent move when the south coast club paid Maccabi Haifa £4 million for his services that summer.

He was ready for the Premier League and his goals were vital in 2003-2004 to Portsmouth avoiding relegation. 16 times Yakubu found the back of the net, finishing joint-sixth in the race for the Golden Boot. Among his highlights were scoring the club’s first-ever away goal at Premier League level against Manchester City, a winner in a critical South Coast Derby at home to Southampton in March and four goals in a 5-1 thumping of League Cup winners Middlesbrough on the final day of the season.

He added another 13 goals in 2004-2005 and is still Portsmouth’s highest Premier League goalscorer with 28 – nine clear of Benjani in that list. As he continued to find the back of the net, other clubs in the top-flight were keen to add him to their attacking options. He joined Middlesbrough soon after the season concluded for £7.5 million – the highest fee for a Nigerian player in Premier League history. In two seasons at Middlesbrough, he scored 24 goals. In 2005-2006, he scored home goals in fantastic victories over Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea and was part of the Boro squad that made the 2006 UEFA Cup final.

After the first two games of the 2007-2008 campaign, Yakubu transferred to Everton for £11.25 million and showed his ambition by taking the squad number 22. This was a goal target he’d set for the season in all competition and he only fell just one short of reaching this number too. He scored 11 minutes into his debut in an away win at Bolton and grabbed a hat-trick in a 3-0 home triumph over Fulham in December 2007. He became the first Everton player since Peter Beardsley to score 20+ goals in all competitions.

At West Bromwich Albion in August 2008, Yakubu scored the winner which was his 100th goal in English football. It was the highlight of his 2008-2009 campaign which was ruined by rupturing his Achilles tendon in a 1-0 away win over Tottenham Hotspur in November 2008. That ended his season prematurely and kept him out of the first-team picture for 11 months.

As other attacking options came into the club such as Louis Saha and Brazilian Jo, Yakubu fell down the pecking order on his return. He scored in a thrilling 3-3 draw with Chelsea and netted a winner over Stoke City but his time on Merseyside was winding down towards a conclusion.

After a loan spell at Championship club Leicester City during the second half of the 2010-2011 campaign, “The Yak” moved to Blackburn Rovers on transfer deadline day in August 2011. On his home debut, he scored twice to help Blackburn to a memorable 4-3 victory over Arsenal which was their first win of the season. In December 2011, he scored four goals in a game again, helping Rovers to a 4-2 home success over Swansea City and he added two more to his tally in a shock 3-2 away win at reigning champions Manchester United on New Years’ Eve. He finished with his best-ever goalscoring return in a Premier League season – 17 goals in 30 appearances. However, Blackburn dropped out of the top-flight on the final Monday of the season and the Nigerian stated he didn’t want to play in the Championship and therefore, had to leave the club.

For Nigeria, he scored 21 goals in 57 appearances for The Super Eagles and is the third-highest scorer in their international history. He was part of a Nigeria squad that took part in four African Cup of Nations tournaments and also featured at the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa. He scored a penalty in the 2-2 draw with South Korea during the group stages but he is best remembered for missing an open goal earlier in the match as Nigeria crashed out of the competition.

After leaving Blackburn, Yakubu moved to China where he played for three seasons with Guangzhou R&F. He also spent a year in Turkey with Kayserispor and returned to English football for brief spells at Reading and Coventry City. He left the Sky Blues in April 2017 after not featuring in the plans of manager Mark Robins and seven months later, elected to stop playing altogether.

When at Blackburn, fans had a chant for him: “Feed the Yak and he will score!” He pretty much did that for all of his Premier League clubs and was a natural goalscorer throughout his career.

Memorable Matches: Middlesbrough 3-3 Tottenham Hotspur (December 2005)

Goalscorers: Robbie Keane 25, Yakubu 30, 43, Jermaine Jenas 63, Franck Queudrue 69, Mido 83

Teams:

Middlesbrough: Mark Schwarzer, Matthew Bates, Gareth Southgate, Ugo Ehiogu, Franck Queudrue, George Boateng, Doriva, James Morrison (Massimo Maccarone 89), Fabio Rochemback, Marc Viduka, Yakubu

Tottenham Hotspur: Paul Robinson, Lee-Young Pyo, Michael Dawson, Ledley King, Paul Stalteri, Michael Carrick, Edgar Davids, Jermaine Jenas (Grzegorz Rasiak 81), Andy Reid (Jermain Defoe 56, Michael Brown 90), Robbie Keane, Mido

Referee: Howard Webb, Attendance: 27,614

The 27,614 crowd that turned up at the Riverside Stadium in December 2005 were given a pre-Christmas treat. Middlesbrough and Tottenham Hotspur produced a great spectacle and ultimately, a game which neither side deserved to lose.

Boro were having a tricky season under Steve McClaren. They had lost their last two Premier League games and were finding the juggling effect of Premier League and European matches tough to handle. Martin Jol’s Tottenham didn’t have that problem and they were challenging for a top-four finish alongside the top-flight’s usual suspects.

After a scrappy first 25 minutes, it was Jol’s side who took the lead. Lee-Young Pyo launched a deep cross into the box. Mark Schwarzer was challenged by Mido and under pressure, the goalkeeper lost the ball. Robbie Keane was in the right place at the right time. His strike wasn’t the cleanest but evaded three Boro defenders to score. Schwarzer looked at referee Howard Webb, feeling he had been impeded. In truth, it wasn’t his finest piece of goalkeeping.

Middlesbrough responded well though and by half-time, were leading 2-1. From a Gareth Southgate flick-on, Yakubu volleyed past Paul Robinson at the near post. He was the big summer arrival at the Riverside and returning an excellent goals tally. The Nigerian doubled his tally but in more fluky fashion. Academy graduate James Morrison was given space to run at the defence. He did just that, skipping past Michael Dawson’s tackle before releasing a shot. His effort took a wicked deflection off Yakubu and that gave the England no.1 goalkeeper no chance. Yakubu nearly had a hat-trick early in the second half. Only great reflexes from Robinson stopped him from walking home with the match ball. Morrison’s cross was met by a thumping header that was turned over the crossbar. It was a crucial save. Moments later, Spurs equalised. Jermaine Jenas produced a perfectly curled free-kick that comprehensively beat Schwarzer to level the scores.

With 20 minutes left, Middlesbrough regained the lead. Fabio Rochemback’s corner was met by a flying Franck Queudrue header. The ball hit the underside of the bar and bounced over the line. These were the days before goal-line technology but no doubts here – the linesman correctly awarded the goal. Robinson didn’t agree and was booked by Webb for his protests. However, Tottenham deserved something from the match and they got their point seven minutes from the end. Mido climbed the highest from a corner to defeat Schwarzer and ensure the points would be shared.

Both suffered heartache at the end of the season. Middlesbrough finished a disappointing 14th but went all the way to the UEFA Cup final before losing to Sevilla. Tottenham were pipped to a top-four finish on the final day of the campaign by north London rivals Arsenal.

Shock Results: Manchester United 2-3 Blackburn Rovers (December 2011)

Goalscorer: Yakubu 16 PEN, 51, Dimitar Berbatov 52, 62, Grant Hanley 81

Teams:

Manchester United: David de Gea, Patrice Evra, Michael Carrick, Phil Jones, Rafael (Will Keane 85), Ji-Sung Park, Antonio Valencia, Nani, Dimitar Berbatov, Javier Hernandez (Anderson 46), Danny Welbeck

Blackburn Rovers: Mark Bunn, Grant Hanley, Jason Lowe, Christopher Samba, Adam Henley, Radosav Petrovic, Ruben Rochina (Josh Morris 55), Mauro Formica (David Goodwillie 85), Steven N’Zonzi, Morten Gamst Pedersen, Yakubu (Jordan Slew 89)

Referee: Mike Dean, Attendance: 75,146

Blackburn Rovers arrived at Old Trafford on New Years’ Eve 2011 in real trouble. Despite a battling draw on Boxing Day at Anfield, they were bottom of the table and favourites to be relegated. Not only did Steve Kean have to deal with this problem, he was struggling to win over supporters who never seemed to accept him as the club’s manager.

By contrast, Manchester United were in devastating form. They had scored 10 goals in two matches without conceding and this was a chance to start 2012 as the league leaders. It was Sir Alex Ferguson’s 70th birthday. Unfortunately, his side decided to be rather charitable and gave him a nasty birthday surprise.

With the taxing festive programme, Ferguson elected to rotate his squad. Michael Carrick played as a makeshift centre-back whilst Wayne Rooney was rested. His move to leave his top goalscorer in the stands backfired. Blackburn made the better start and led after 13 minutes. From a free-kick, Dimitar Berbatov grappled with Christopher Samba and hauled the central defender to the ground. Mike Dean had no hesitation in pointing to the penalty spot. Yakubu took his time and converted the resulting spot-kick.

Whether it was the gloomy Manchester weather or the lunchtime kick-off but it took the reigning champions far too long to wake up. They only created half-chances in the first 45 minutes. Blackburn goalkeeper Mark Bunn only had two saves of real note to make. At half-time, Javier Hernandez was withdrawn and replaced by Anderson as Ferguson looked for more all-round balance.

However, Blackburn went 2-0 up six minutes after the restart as Yakubu struck again. He took advantage of some static defending, largely from ex-Blackburn defender Phil Jones. The Nigerian prodded the ball between de Gea’s legs to shock the Theatre of Dreams. Before the visitors’ could relax though, United immediately responded. Berbatov, who had scored a treble on Boxing Day at home to Wigan Athletic, made amends for his early penalty gaffe. He nodded home from close-range after Rafael’s wayward shot ended up in his path. The Bulgarian soon equalised. Antonio Valencia left 17-year-old Adam Henley behind on the right-hand side. His cross was guided home by Berbatov for his sixth goal in three games. Surely, the home side would complete the turnaround? Not so.

With 10 minutes left, Morten Gamst Pedersen’s corner was met by 20-year-old centre-back Grant Hanley. He was physically stronger than de Gea in the air, beating him to his attempted punch with a header. It was cleared off the line, but he reacted quickest to the follow-up. United nearly pinched a point in injury-time but Jones’ goal bound effort hit his own player, Will Keane on the line. All in all, it was a slumbering display from the usually reliable Red Devils.

It was a cracking win for Blackburn but they would end the season saying their goodbyes to the Premier League. Manchester United missed out on the title on goal difference to Manchester City. This was a damaging result for their title ambitions.