Posted by: Zel Ram | February 7, 2008

Manchester vs. Portsmouth

cristiano ronaldo & portsmouth

Barclays Premier League

Old Trafford, Wed 30 Jan

MANCHESTER UNITED 2

Ronaldo 10, 13

PORTSMOUTH 0

Cristiano Ronaldo continued his irrepressible goalscoring form with yet another delightful double to sink Portsmouth and send United back to the top of the Premiership.

His two goals – one a neat finish, the other a jaw-droppingly good 25-yard free-kick – came with three minutes of each and completely deflated Harry Redknapp’s men.

What this excellent performance proves beyond doubt is just how ruthless United can be. This was a game United controlled for 90 minutes, but it was less about blitzing a team for 90 minutes, and more about a clinical job, pitilessly carried out.Portsmouth have lost four key players to African Nations Cup duty, but they cannot really complain with new signings Lassana Diarra and Milan Baros bolstering their ranks.

The simple fact is that United, on this attacking form, are unplayable to most opponents. But, make no mistake, Harry Redknapp’s men are a no soft touch, especially away from home.

They have taken seven wins from 12 on the road this term, and arrived in Manchester confident, if perhaps quietly so.For United it was a case of maintaining momentum. Unbeaten in 2008, the Reds’ chief aim was to regain top spot from Arsenal in what is turning into a see-saw claim for the title.

Paul Scholes, making his 550th appearance for the Reds, was given his first start since mid-October, and the Salford-born midfield magician was heavily involved from the start, pinging passes all over the pitch.He was involved in United’s opener after just ten minutes. His pass forward was chested down by Ronaldo to Nani, whose lofted return pass found his fellow countryman’s run forward.
Ronaldo one-on-one with a goalkeeper: the script rarely deviates. His finish was slipped inside David James’ post.Ronaldo, it appears, seems intent on rewriting the record books when it comes to the tag ‘goalscoring midfielder’. But his second goal of the night – three minutes after his first – deserves an entry in the dictionary, under ‘unstoppable’. Ronaldo hits his free-kicks in such a manner that is very little for error.
Hit with such venom, they could merely canon off the wall or head high into the stands. When he catches them right, goalkeepers might as well not bother diving. David James didn’t, as the United winger’s shot arrowed its way into the top corner.
That takes him to 27 for the season, and it sapped all enthusiasm from the Portsmouth players. And they were simply unable to recover.
United continued to press forward, with Scholes, Carrick, Ronaldo, Nani, Park and Rooney interlinking beautifully to create sweeping attacking moves that Portsmouth were unable to cope with.
The Reds couldn’t add to the scoreline before half-time, but after the break Harry Redknapp gave a nod to United’s midfield dominance by switching to a five-man midfield, with Baros up front on his own.
United began the second half as positively as they had finished the first 45 minutes. Ferdinand tested James with a powerful header from Nani’s corner shortly after the restart.
Then after 55 minutes Rooney went desperately close to United’s third. Campbell failed to deal with a long ball forward, his header never like to reach James and leaving Rooney the chance to shoot. But James rushed back in time to keep out Rooney’s chipped shot.Portsmouth’s change of tactics may have stemmed the tide of attacks that came their way in the first half, but it also blunted their ability to penetrate going forward.
United were still hunting a third a goal, albeit without great urgency, and it would have arrived with just over 15 minutes of the match remaining but for excellent goalkeeping from James.
The Pompey keeper managed to smother Park’s shot from 12 yards after nice work from Ronaldo and Rooney, and then he threw himself in front of Nani’s follow-up.Sir Alex could afford to take off Ronaldo and Rooney with a quarter of an hour to spare.
Owen Hargreaves and Carlos Tevez came on to replace them, joining Anderson who was brought on in place of Scholes ten minutes earlier.Portsmouth dropped to walking pace at times in the closing ten minutes, which allowed United to take their foot off the pedal rather than needlessly expend energy.
Anderson was denied a goal of sheer majesty late on when his run past two players couldn’t quite be rewarded with the finish as his shot trickled wide of the post. The damage, however, had already been done.
Ronaldo’s quickfire double – his fifth brace in an incredible season – had all but guaranteed the points, and restored United as the Premier League’s premier club once again.
Team Line-ups
Manchester United: Van der Sar; Brown, Ferdinand (c),
Vidic, Evra; Park, Carrick, Scholes (Anderson 63), Nani; Ronaldo
(Tevez 74), Rooney (Hargreaves 74).Subs not used: Kuszczak, O’Shea.
Portsmouth: James; Johnson, Distin (Hreidarrsson 46),
Campbell (c), Pamarot; Lauren (Mvuemba 46), Diarra, Davis,
Kranjcar; Baros (Hughes 79), Benjani.
Subs not used: Pedro Mendes, Begovic (GK).
Attendance: 75,415
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Responses

  1. You could certainly see your expertise in the work you write. The world hopes for more passionate writers such as you who aren’t afraid to say how they believe. At all times go after your heart.


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