Portsmouth 1 Manchester United 0

Saturday 17th April
Fratton Park, Portsmouth

Another disappointing performance from the United boys allowed Chelsea to steal a few points ahead of them into second place in the table. Thankfully, Abramovich's men could only manage a similarly dismal nil-nil draw with Everton, which means that United can still claim second place, although they must get a result against the money-men at Old Trafford in two weeks time.

Fergie sent out a youthful team, with veteran Roy Keane still out injured, and with Ruud van Nistelrooy yet to reach full fitness following his knee injury. Saha and Solskjaer led the line, with Forlan supposedly injured as opposed to left out for his reaction to substitution on Tuesday.

It was the Reds who had the better of the first few plays, with Solskjaer and Saha both going close to scoring a vital first goal Saha was played in by a brilliant long-ball from Butt, and headed over Hislop only to see the ball scrape over the bar as well.

In truth, despite much of the possession, United failed to find their groove, and even though they had touches of their usual swagger, it wasn't enough to beat a lucky and hard-working Pompey team.

The deadlock was broken on 35 minutes. On one of few attacks by Portsmouth, Lomana Lua Lua crossed the ball in low and hard. It should have been dealt with by Gary Neville, but he was out-muscled on the ball just 4 yards from goal. The ball bounced aback to the front post, where Stone was waiting and able to slot easily past Carroll, despite the 'keepers best efforts.

United laid siege around the box in the second half, but unbelievably, it was Portsmouth who should have scored, for a second time. Yakubu was set free by Silvestre's poor defensive header, and could only volley over the bar when he had time and space.

Solskjaer managed to break free of the off-side trap to get his left foot to the ball, but could only fire straight into the arms of Hislop from an admittedly acute angle.

Ronaldo entered the fray, and caused more havoc for the Pompey boys, but was seemingly unable to find a killer ball through the defensive wall of 10 men.

On 87 minutes United should have had a penalty. Not for the first time, they were denied it (remember Fulham Away?). A speculative Gary Neville over-head kick was pushed away clearly by Taylor, using his hands. Everyone appealed, but the ref bottled it, and gave a corner. Such is our luck this season.

A final chance in the form of a free-kick fell to Ronaldo, but he could do little with it, and the ball went sailing pas the post, as the points fell once again out of United's grasp.

An undeserved loss.

Portsmouth: Hislop, Primus, Stefanovic, De Zeeuw, Stone, Faye, Smertin, Berkovic (Quashie 45), Taylor, LuaLua (Sheringham 79), Yakubu.

Subs not used: Wapenaar, Curtis, Harper.

Booked: Sheringham, Taylor.

Man Utd: Carroll, Gary Neville, Brown, Silvestre, O'Shea (Fletcher 74), Butt (Bellion 89), Scholes, Djemba-Djemba (Ronaldo 58), Giggs, Saha, Solskjaer.

Subs not used: Howard, Pugh.

Booked: Gary Neville.

Attendance: 20,140.

Referee: N Barry (N Lincolnshire).