United Sneak Past Pompey

Tuesday August 26, 2008 - 04:25:40
Shaafici Muxyidiin
Portsmouth 0 Manchester United 1 A single first half goal was enough to ease Manchester United past Portsmouth at Fratton Park. Whilst the champions dominated the game they couldn’t add to their lead but will be happy with a win. Portsmouth, meanwhile are pointless and goalless after two games.

The home side came out of the blocks quickly, no doubt eager to atone for their 4-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge on the opening day. With only a few seconds on the clock Papa Bouba Diop had fired a shot which flew inches wide, with Van der Sar scrambling across his goal.

United responded almost immediately, Wes Brown finding himself in acres of space down the right, crossed into the box where Rooney was lurking but his shot was comfortably saved by James.

The game then settled down, the visitors happy to keep possession and play patient, neat football whilst Portsmouth were closing down well and forcing United to play on the flanks.

However, the visitors initially struggled to break down Harry Redknapp’s side and a Scholes free kick, which was fired far too close to James, was the closest they came in the opening exchanges.

Portsmouth meanwhile were struggling to get Defoe and Crouch into the game. Yet, when they did finally combine they almost opened the scoring.

Defoe out on the right, put the ball into the box where it fell to his strike partner only yards from goal. However, Patrice Evra managed to nick it off his toe with an excellent saving tackle just as Crouch was about to pull the trigger.

From the resultant corner Kaboul flashed a header just wide and, with the Fratton Park crowd in full voice, it looked as though Portsmouth were about to take a firm hold on the match.

However, just after the half hour mark the champions were ahead. Tevez slid a ball through to Evra, overlapping on the left, and his ball into the box was met at the near post by a combination of Darren Fletcher and Sol Campbell which was enough to send it past James despite Distin’s valiant attempts on the line.

The goal seemed to settle United and their passing became slicker and their movement more fluid as the half progressed.  With five minutes to go before the interval Rooney should have doubled their lead.

An excellent ball from Anderson on the right found the England striker on the edge of the box. A lovely turn took him past Kaboul with ease and he hit a low shot which flew narrowly wide.

Alex Ferguson’s men began the second half in much the same vein. Tevez and Rooney combining well for Anderson, but Distin got back just in time to deny the young Brazilian.

Rooney then finished a lovely chance neatly only for the assistant referee’s flag to deny him the goal and add to the England striker’s frustration.

With United beginning to dominate possession Redknapp decided to change things, replacing debutant Traore with Jerome Thomas. Within minutes Thomas had forced Van der Sar into a save, his stinging shot from range being parried by the Dutch stopper.

The chance was a warning for the Red Devils, who despite dominating the game couldn’t add to their lead. Papa Bouba Diop was the next to have a chance, another long range shot which Van der Sar fielded relatively comfortably but it served to emphasize how slender the champions’ lead was.

However, Alex Ferguson’s men held on fairly comfortably in the end and will be delighted to leave Fratton Park with three points after struggling on the south coast in recent seasons. Portsmouth, meanwhile, while looking much improved from their display against Chelsea are still without a point after two games.

Portsmouth: James, Kaboul, Campbell, Distin, Johnson, Diop, Davis (Utaka, 65), Diarra, Armand Traore (Thomas, 55), Crouch, Defoe.

Man Utd: Van der Sar, Brown, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, O'Shea, Fletcher, Anderson (Possebon, 77), Scholes, Rooney, Tevez. 


0-1 Manchester United (Fletcher, 32)

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