Manchester United 3 Portsmouth 0

1st November 2003
Old Trafford, Manchester

Portsmouth were left ruing their chances after Manchester United capitalized on some sloppy defending in the last ten minutes to turn what was a close game into a drubbing.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Roy Keane both scored in the final minutes to give the Reds a landslide 3 0 victory. Whilst most commentators were expecting a Manchester United win, few considered that the end-score was a fair one.

Manchester again started slowly, with Portsmouth doing much of the running, and dominating in terms of possession, as Fulham had the week before. With Keane left out of the starting line-up, the midfield was made up of Giggs, and Fletcher, who both turned in good performances down the wings, and Butt and Djemba-Djemba, who had both been blamed for the Reds' lethargy against the Londoners last week.

It was Portsmouth who had first blood Yakubu taking on Rio Ferdinand, who clearly had his mind on the up-and-coming Drug-test trial. Ferdinand was not at his best, and allowed the young Nigerian to dance past him. Tim Howard saved the low driven shot well, saving Rio's blushes.

Giggs slowly hauled United up to speed, with his speed and skill down the left wing helping to build up some momentum.

Van Nistelrooy was in superior form, although a goal in open play eluded him for the fourth match in a row a veritable drought for the usually-decisive Dutchman. With ten minutes of the second half remaining, he controlled the ball beautifully with his right thigh, before volleying the ball towards goal. Hislop, in the Portsmouth goal, jumped but was unable to reach the ball, but was more than happy to see it glance off the cross-bar and go out for a goal kick.

Van Nistelrooy also missed another chance in the second half pulling the ball wide in a one-on-one situation which would have killed the game.

It was the other striker, Forlan, who broke the deadlock. Gary Neville whipped the ball into the penalty area, and Giggs headed the ball towards the penalty spot. Forlan had to wait for the ball to come down, but when it did he slammed home the ball with precision through a crowded penalty area.

After the break, Manchester rallied well, not allowing the Blues of the south coast to get a look in on goal. Keane and Ronaldo were brought on to consolidate the centre of the field.

It was substitute Ronaldo who guided home United's second goal. A free kick from the a few yards out from the corner of the area was played into the area by the superstar. Hislop waited for somebody to get a touch on it, but ultimately reacted too late when he realised that no-one was able to reach it. His outstretched hand could only palm it into the top corner of the net, to give Manchester United an unassailable lead.

Keane followed up minutes later, turning his man and lashing the ball towards the goal with his left foot. It brushed the post on its way to nestling in the bottom corner of the net. 3 0. Game won.

Man Utd: Howard, Gary Neville, O'Shea, Ferdinand, Fortune, Fletcher, Butt, Djemba-Djemba (Keane 76), Giggs (Bellion 81), Forlan (Ronaldo 76), van Nistelrooy.

Subs Not Used: Carroll, Phil Neville.

Portsmouth: Hislop, Stefanovic, De Zeeuw, Foxe, Zivkovic (Roberts 81), Stone, Quashie, Sherwood (Taylor 69), Berger, Ayegbini, Sheringham.

Subs Not Used: Wapenaar, Schemmel, O'Neil.

Booked: De Zeeuw, Sherwood, Quashie.

Attendance: 67,639

Referee: N Barry (N Lincolnshire).