Football: Premier League - Everton 0-3 Portsmouth

Jermain Defoe scored two and set up the other as Portsmouth got their first points of the season

Portsmouth were collectively awesome in earning their first Premier League points of the season but nobody caught the eye like Jermain Defoe. The striker scored twice, assisted in the other and played in an all-round manner that suggested he is ready to establish himself as England's leading striker four years after making his international debut.

The period in between has been a frustrating one for the 25-year-old. Having scored his first England goal in the 2-1 victory over Poland in September 2004, he failed to do so again until striking twice in the 5-0 win against Andorra two years later.

It then took him until this summer to add another, in the 3-0 victory over Trinidad & Tobago in Port of Spain.

Although the reasons for his stuttering form - he has five goals after 29 caps - are plentiful, the most obvious is that while Michael Owen has been around Defoe has not been able to establish himself in the side long enough to build up his tally. But having received chances under Fabio Capello, most recently in the scrambled 2-2 draw with the Czech Republic at Wembley, coupled with Owen's struggles at Newcastle, his moment may just have arrived. His timing certainly could not be better, with away World Cup qualifiers against Andorra and Croatia looming, and Saturday's showing against Everton should be enough to guarantee another starting role, most probably alongside Wayne Rooney. No wonder he departed Merseyside in positive mood.

"I have been involved with England for a while but this is the first time I am getting a fair chance and hopefully the goals today won't have done me any harm," he said. "I am working hard because there are important games coming up. It is in the back of your mind that you want to put a marker down. I always back myself [to score for England]. With the players we've got you are always going to get a chance and if I keep doing what I am doing I feel I will take it."

Such confidence is justified. After a slow start to the season Defoe soared against Everton, scoring first on 12 minutes with a fantastic turn and drive and then again on 69 minutes when he chipped the ball over a despairing Tim Howard. In between he also fed Glen Johnson to score.

Portsmouth's manager, Harry Redknapp, was full of praise for the man he rescued from the Tottenham substitutes' bench in January. "He is a fantastic player who can score goals and has great ability," he said of Defoe. "To be fair, Jermain has been unbelievable ever since he arrived from Spurs."

Defoe was undoubtedly aided on Saturday by a woeful Everton defence which showed none of the resilience evident when they conceded only 33 goals last season. No one was more culpable than Joleon Lescott, who David Moyes conceded afterwards had been suffering from a lack of concentration and needed to "stand up" before his form completely disintegrated. Of particular concern for the Everton manager, though, is the overall state of his squad which, he said, might not be in shape to win many matches this season.

Tony Hibbert, Tim Cahill and Steven Pienaar remain long-term injury absentees, forcing Moyes to play the teenagers Jack Rodwell and Jose Baxter in each of the team's opening three matches.

Reinforcements are arriving - the new signing Lars Jacobsen was an unused substitute here - but is it a frustration to the Scot that he has missed out on key targets this summer. "We are a way away from getting it right and it may get worse before it gets better," said Moyes, who has yet to sign a new contract at Everton. "We don't have that much time to find a winning formula."

Man of the match Jermain Defoe (Portsmouth)


Sachin Nakrani at Goodison Park

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