PREMIER LEAGUE: Portsmouth 2 Aston Villa 0
England coach Fabio Cappello had obviously seen enough. Ten minutes from the end of time he and goalkeeping coach Ray Clemence had left Fratton Park - no doubts in their mind who will be in the squad for the forthcoming friendly with France.
It may have been Portsmouth goalkeeper David James who used to hold the tag of "Calamity" but poor Scott Carson is in danger of being labelled with a tag of his own after two errors between the posts - one of comic proportions - which gifted Harry Redknapp's side all three points in this encounter.
Carson committed himself and came off his line to allow Jermain Defoe to put the home side ahead after just 11 minutes with the most sublime chip.
Then the 22-year-old keeper - who many blame for England's exit from the European Championships after a howler against Croatia - tried to clear the ball after another Pompey charge only to fire it at the knees of team-mate Nigel Reo-Coker. The former West Ham midfielder could do nothing as the ball rebounded into the empty net from a full 30 yards.
At the other end David James - who spent three seasons as a Villa player - threw himself behind everything the visitors had to offer pulling off a string of impressive saves to deny Gabriel Agbonlahor, Shaun Maloney and Ashley Young.
Martin O'Neill's side have a fine record away from home and had expected to get back to winning ways after a lacklustre performance against Middlesbrough in which they had been lucky to scramble a 1-1 draw.
Luck eluded them at Fratton Park however where, despite bossing much of the proceedings and threatening time and again, Villa saw their 12-match unbeaten run abruptly come to a halt and with it their ambitious plans for a Champions League place.
O'Neill's men had started brightly enough with Maloney testing James early on and Agbonlahor - searching for his first goal in ten games - forcing his way past Hermann Hreidarsson only to get tangled with the Pompey keeper.
The visitors appeared to be eager to put right the wrongs of their poor performance against Boro. Or at least they would have done had they not been caught on the break in the 11th minute when Scott Carson came off his line to try and meet Glen Johnson's long range punt only to see Defoe get to the ball first. The former Tottenham Hotspur striker chipped it deftly over his head into the back of the net.
As the Villa defenders hung their heads in disbelief, the beleaguered keeper could only punch the air in frustration.
The visitors responded well with first Ashley Young forcing a save from James and then Olof Mellberg being denied as he got on the end of another trademark Villa set-piece.
Seconds later James denied Young again and Zat Knight headed just wide as Villa peppered the Pompey goalmouth.
But in the 38th minute disaster struck when Villa were again caught on the hop. Carson again committed himself to coming out to try and clear from Defoe - eager to add to his six goals in six games tally - but as he got his foot to the ball to kick it clear the keeper cleared it only as far as Reo-Coker who knew nothing as the ball rebounded off his knee and flew back past the hapless keeper and into the net.
And as the rain poured down the afternoon's misery was summed up for those in the Villa end when Agbonlahor missed the easiest chance of the match shooting wide after great work from Maloney.
Both Sulley Muntari and Olof Mellberg could have little argument when both were dismissed after being booked twice for challenges although Mellberg's loss will be keenly felt by the Villa boss who also saw Frederick Bouma limp from the field in the 79th minute with a leg injury.
Villa are rightly proud of the fact that five of their squad were recently named in Cappello's inaugural England squad and Ashley Young will no doubt be in there again alongside Gareth Barry.
But Carson's errors and Agbonlahor's lack of fire power may leave question marks over their heads particularly with those competing for the same positions in James and Defoe making such an impression.
Villa now face Sunderland at Villa Park on Saturday knowing there is no room for further error if they are to keep their fast fading European dream alive.
Scorers: Defoe (11), Reo-Coker (og, 38).
PORTSMOUTH (4-4-2): James, Johnson, Hreidarsson, Distin, Lauren, Bouba Diop, Diarra, Muntari, Krancar, Baros (Kanu, 84), Defoe (Utaka, 81). Subs: Ashdown, Aubey, Mendes.
ASTON VILLA (4-4-2): Carson, Mellberg, Knight, Laursen, Bouma (Salifou, 79), Young, Reo-Coker, Barry, Maloney (Harewood, 57), Agbonlahor, Carew. Subs: Taylor, Petrov, Osbourne.
Referee: Chris Foy (Merseyside).
Bookings: Portsmouth - Lauren (foul).
Sendings-off: Portsmouth - Muntari (second bookable offence); Villa - Mellberg (second bookable offence).