Man United 5 Portsmouth 0
Manchester United 5 Portsmouth 0, Old Trafford, English Premier League, February 6, 2010. Manchester United found their way back to the top of the table as they outclassed Portsmouth at home. United were comfortably leading 2-0 at the break, and the home team came back even stronger in the second half to beat the visitors by an overwhelming 5-0 margin.
Manchester United were massive favourites to overcome Portsmouth at Old Trafford, and Sir Alex Ferguson´s Premiership title contenders had no trouble at all in defeating the relegation threatened club at home. United came into this encounter on the back of an impressive 3-1 Premier League triumph against fellow high-fliers Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium, whereas Avram Grant´s team had suffered a narrow 1-0 defeat at the hands of Fulham at Craven Cottage in their previous Premiership fixture. In the corresponding Premier League meeting of the 2008-09 campaign, The Red Devils had defeated Portsmouth by a 2-0 score at Old Trafford courtesy of a goal each from Wayne Rooney and Michael Carrick in the ninth and 82nd minute of the tussle respectively. For this match, Manchester United were missing the services of Rio Ferdinand, Owen Hargreaves, John O’Shea and Nemanja Vidic, while Pompey had to make do without the physical presence of Michael Brown and Papa Bouba Diop. The Hampshire outfit, who had failed to beat Manchester United in a League fixture at Old Trafford since the 19th of October 1957, had a couple of decent goal scoring opportunities during the early skirmishes of the clash and veteran home goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar made a magnificent save from Anthony Vanden Borre’s excellent effort on thirteen minutes. The South Coasters continued their good start and the visiting side almost scored in the 28th minute of the contest when Northern Ireland international defender Jonny Evans just managed to clear a powerful drive from wily winger Nadir Belhadj off the line. Five minutes before the interval, however, Manchester United eventually went into the lead as energetic midfielder Darren Fletcher crossed from the right and Wayne Rooney slipped though between three Portsmouth players including shot stopper David James to head the ball into the goal from close range. The Three Lions international then found rocket-heeled flank forward Luis Nani on the left side of the 18-yard area and his attempted cross was deflected off Vanden Borre into the net only a few seconds before the sound of the half-time whistle.
Following the restart, increasingly frustrated Fratton Park boss Avram Grant could only sit and watch as his Portsmouth troops completely lost their chutzpah with the second period wearing on. In the 59th minute of proceedings at The Theatre of Dreams, a ferocious long distance rocket from England international Michael Carrick was deflected by previous Bournemouth player Richard Hughes with the ball going into the goal via the crossbar, and a mere three minutes later, battering ram striker Dimitar Berbatov displayed some of his terrific skills when he registered the fourth goal of the day with a superb shot from fifteen yards out. The final goal of the one-sided Premier League fixture arrived in the 69th minute of action when Nani headed on an accurate cross by Patrice Evra from the left side and unlucky Republic of Ireland defender Marc Wilson managed to put the ball beyond James and into the back of his own net from six yards out. In other matches, Liverpool edged out neighbouring rivals Everton by 1-0 at Anfield to gain their fifth consecutive home win in the Premier League. Burnley beat West Ham United 2-1 at Turf Moor, Hull City defeated Manchester City 1-0 at KC Stadium, while Stoke City overcame Blackburn Rovers by 3-0 at Britannia Stadium. Manchester United Team: Edwin van der Sar, Gary Neville, Jonny Evans, Wes Brown, Patrice Evra, Antonio Valencia, Luis Nani, Michael Carrick, Darren Fletcher, Wayne Rooney, Dimitar Berbatov. Substitutes: Ritchie De Laet, Darron Gibson, Fabio da Silva, Ji-Sung Park, Mame Biram Diouf, Michael Owen, Tomasz Kuszczak. Portsmouth Team: David James, Tal Ben Haim, Anthony Vanden Borre, Nadir Belhadj, Ricardo Rocha, Hayden Mullins, Marc Wilson, Jamie O’Hara, Richard Hughes, Frederic Piquionne, Danny Webber. Substitutes: Steve Finnan, Hassan Yebda, Aruna Dindane, Angelos Basinas, Kevin-Prince Boateng, Quincy Owusu-Abeyie, Jamie Ashdown.