Date:Saturday February 6 2010
I don't want to sound patronizing but even I felt sorry for Portsmouth while enjoying our third 5-0 win of the season. I mean just how unlucky a team can get?
Pompey came here to defend and though it looked like a good opportunity to rest a few players ahead of the demanding fixture at Villa, Sir Alex opted for a full-strength side: Nani and Valencia flanking Fletcher and Carrick in midfield with Rooney and Berbatov up front.
United were well on top throughout the game of course, dominating possession and territory but it has to be acknowledged that Portsmouth defended well enough for long periods and they could have taken the lead twice in the first half, with Jonny Evans clearing from the goalline on one occasion.
But they eventually crumbled at the other end under constant pressure: it was that man Wayne Rooney who headed in Fletcher's pinpoint cross from close range. Right before half time United doubled their lead as Nani's attempt of a cutback deflected into the net off Vanden Borre.
Pompey looked totally deflated in the second half after these quick hits and United comfortably bossed the game. But you had to feel sorry for them: we missed some real howlers - Berbatov, Valencia - and perhaps it would have been easier for them if we had scored those, as opposed to finding the back of the net via wicked deflections, as Carrick did on 59 minutes.
And it got worse: after Berbatov scored a classy goal Pompey went ahead and actually put the ball in their own net yet again! This time Evra's looping cross was turned in by Wilson.
By that time Fergie substituted Rooney, Fletcher and Berbatov, introducing Diouf, Owen and Gibson. It mattered little: we were stroking the ball around comfortably and looked to create chances whenever there was a lapse in concentration on the Pompey defenders' part. It was all cruel and cold-blooded: Portsmouth looked every bit a side haunted by off-field problems and bereft of confidence and the goals we scored were typical of their season but United were in no mood to let them off the hook out of compassion.
Of course goal difference might actually be important: ours is now three better than Chelsea's which means that a draw at Stamford Bridge tomorrow would keep United top at the expense of the Blues. So I'll be an enthusiastic Arsenal fan for tomorrow though I can't really see them getting anything at Chelsea, not after the horror show they produced against us in their own backyard. But hope springs eternal and it would be brilliant as well as unexpected to actually lead the pack going into the last third of the season.
Date:Saturday February 6 2010
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