Rekik refuses to give up hope

Karim Rekik thwarts another attack from Palace dangerman Wilfied Zaha
Karim Rekik thwarts another attack from Palace dangerman Wilfied Zaha

Karim Rekik snuffed out the threat of Crystal Palace dangerman Wilfried Zaha and vowed: There is still hope.

The Dutch teenager fought fire with fire to nullify the speed and trickery of one of the English game’s rising stars last night.

Rekik used his own turn of pace to handle Zaha and help Pompey earn a 2-1 win thanks to his man-of-the-match performance.

That saw the 17-year-old bounce back from being given a tough afternoon by James Coppinger at Doncaster on Saturday.

The on-loan Manchester City ace never gave Zaha an inch to breathe and was key to Michael Appleton’s side getting the vital win.

Rekik believes the result gives Pompey hope they can stay in the Championship with two games remaining.

And he was pleased he was able to play a major role in ensuring the Blues’ battle for survival continues.

‘Of course there is still hope,’ said Rekik.

‘Bristol City have drawn and are looking at us. It’s on to them.

‘I was pleased with my performance because he (Zaha) is a great player.

‘He didn’t do too much and there wasn’t so many opportunities for him.

‘But we can’t win the games with one player. It’s a team performance with 11 players.

‘He’s very quick but I think I am quite quick as well.

‘It was more about watching his stepovers and everything, where you need to focus on the ball. It went very well for me.

‘It was hard for me at Doncaster, but with the crowd here behind you that helps.

‘It’s true I’m more a central defender but I can play left-back or defensive midfielder. The experience of being here is helping me as a player.

‘It’s helping my abilities and it’s helping me to grow.

‘It’s helping me to be a better player.

‘Just let me play and I will do my job.’

Appleton has tried to do as much as possible to keep the weight of expectation off his men throughout the final weeks of the season.

Rekik feels the Blues put expectancy on themselves to deliver all the time there is hope they can survive.

The defender reckons the greater weight rests on Bristol City, though, with the Robins – who drew 1-1 with promotion-chasing West Ham last night – having their fate in their own hands.

The Dutchman believes Derek McInnes’ side will now be looking nervously over their shoulders following back-to-back wins for Pompey.

He said: ‘We just need to look at our games.

‘The pressure is never off. Until we are mathematically relegated, there is the same pressure to win games.

‘We need to win every game.

‘The pressure is more on them, though, because they thought they were safe and Portsmouth are down.

‘It’s not like that, though, because we never give up.’