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Fletcher saves United again

 

From ESPNsoccernet: 

Manchester United ended their Fratton Park jinx to grab a 1-0 win, their first Premier League victory of the season, with a scruffy goal in the 33rd minute which left Portsmouth still pointless.

Darren Fletcher claimed the goal after Patrice Evra's cross rebounded off Sol Campbell and then the Scot's shins before creeping beyond stranded goalkeeper David James.

It may have crept over the line but Sylvain Distin's frantic attempt to clear put the ball into the roof of the net and earned United only their second win at Fratton Park in the last six meetings.

For Pompey it was another setback after last Sunday's 4-0 defeat at Chelsea.

The new partnership up front between Jermain Defoe and Peter Crouch again came up empty and looked less lethal than that of Carlos Tevez and Wayne Rooney.

United were still missing some key injured players like Ryan Giggs, Michael Carrick and Owen Hargreaves but their midfield coped comfortably enough with the equivalent Pompey department in which Sean Davis made a surprise comeback.

This time Hermann Hreidarsson was left out and Pompey lined up with three centre backs in Campbell, Distin and new £5million man Younes Kaboul.

A frustrated Rooney battles Diop, still looking for his form from 2 years ago

 

Portsmouth's shock FA Cup quarter-final victory at Old Trafford in March probably robbed United - the Premier League and European Champions - of a glorious treble.

And the home side rubbed it in by parading the the famous old trophy before kick-off.

So there was a bit of edge in this match between two sides who met in two fairly friendly encounters pre-season.

Now United will face a gap of nearly two weeks after meeting Russia's Zenit St Petersburg for the European Super Cup in Monaco on Friday and then facing back-to-back fixtures with Liverpool and Chelsea.

Diop almost surprised United in the first 15 seconds. His shot from 25 yards was not far off the mark - and it was doubtful whether Edwin van der Sar would have got there had it been on target.

United, also without the suspended Nani, soon replied with Wes Brown making a run down the right and cutting the ball back for Rooney to shoot strongly on the turn but straight at David James.

Pompey were bright and lively at the start with Lassana Diarra typically busy in the midfield.

And they wanted a penalty after 13 minutes when Davis's attempt to cross from the right seemed to brush the hand of Nemanja Vidic but Referee Chris Foy ruled in United's favour.

Vidic and Ferdinand had their work cut out for them marking Crouch and his teammates

 

Diop foolishly got himself booked five minutes later when bringing down Carlos Tevez from behind and it needed a smart save by James to hold Paul Scholes' thumping free kick from nearly 30 yards.

Just as United begun to swing the ball about with some style Pompey forced two chances with Evra needing to get back and put Crouch off his shot after Defoe made the first opening, helped by a miskick from Anderson.

Then when Diarra's right-wing corner floated over Crouch as he grappled with Rio Ferdinand, a late run by Kaboul found a free header but he glanced it wide.

Moments later though came United's breakthrough when Evra, overlapping on the left, turned the ball across and it hit both Campbell and then Fletcher before trundling towards goal beyond a stranded James.

Distin's frantic attempt to clear on the line only sent the ball rifling in to the roof of the net - although Fletcher, United's scorer against Newcastle last Sunday, tried to claim it.

Pompey felt hard done by and tried to repair the damage but the ever-willing Defoe hooked his shot over from short-range after Campbell went forward to cause mayhem from a Glen Johnson free kick into the area.

And it would have been a picture goal for Rooney had his low drive not sped inches wide after a breathtaking touch sold a dummy to Kaboul as he collected Brown's pass on the edge of the Pompey box.

Redkapp says it will be United vs Chelsea in the end

 

Arsenal loanee Traore took a bad tackle from Brown - who was booked - just before the break and was replaced by Jerome Thomas 10 minutes into the second half.

Tevez and Rooney combined to almost set up a second United goal for Anderson who just failed to force the ball home at the far post and Pompey battled hard to respond to a range of tactical tinkering.

Thomas replaced Traore as the left wide-man and hit a blistering shot from long distance which Van der Sar had to punch away.

Then Crouch, who covered acres of ground, outjumped Brown but saw the Dutch goalkeeper comfortably field his near-post header.

Carelessness at the back almost cost Portsmouth when Kaboul gave the ball away and Scholes' shot hammered against Johnson for a corner.

And with Defoe being perpetually caught offside there was not much the home side could raise to threaten United's solid defence - except from long distance.

 

The stats:

Scoring Summary Portsmouth Man Utd

None

Darren Fletcher (32)

Match Stats  Portsmouth Man Utd Shots (on Goal) 14(3) 13(4) Fouls 11 13 Corner Kicks 4 3 Offsides 4 5 Time of Possession 36% 64% Yellow Cards 2 2 Red Cards 0 0 Saves 3 2

Match Information Stadium: Fratton Park, England
Attendance: 20,540
Match Time: 20:00 UK

Teams Portsmouth Man UtdDavid JamesEdwin Van der Sar23 Sol CampbellRio Ferdinand15 Sylvain Distin22 John O'Shea30 Armand TraoreWes BrownGlen JohnsonPatrice EvraYounes Kaboul15 Nemanja Vidic28 Sean DavisAndersonLassana Diarra18 Paul ScholesPapa Bouba Diop24 Darren FletcherPeter Crouch32 Carlos Tevez14 Jermain Defoe10 Wayne RooneySubstitutes11 Jerome ThomasGary Neville 226 Ben SaharFraizer Campbell 317 Hermann HreidarssonFabio 2021 Jamie AshdownRodrigo Possebon 344 LaurenRafael 2118 Arnold MvuembaTomasz Kuszczak 2917 John UtakaDarron Gibson 28SubstitutionsJerome Thomas for Armand Traore (56)
Rodrigo Possebon for Anderson (77)
John Utaka for Sean Davis (66)
 Yellow CardsPapa Bouba Diop (18)
Wes Brown (44)
Jermain Defoe (80)
Darren Fletcher (90

 

 

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