Portsmouth 2 - 0 Manchester United
Saturday 30th October 2004
Fratton Park, Portsmouth
Manchester United came into this game elated, but left Portsmouth with their tail between their legs. After the glorious victory over the "Mighty" and "Invincible" Arsenal last week, United were due to sweep all future opponents by the wayside, as they went on a magnificent winning run. What happened was a very different story.
United came out all guns blazing, and deserved to take an early lead - with Ronaldo hitting the post in the first ten minutes. With Heinze and Neville charging down either flank, and with Ronaldo, Rooney, Smith, Rooney, Giggs and Scholes pushing forward at every opportunity, United pushed Pompey back into their own 18-yard box. They peppered the goal with shots from all angles, with Scholes and Ronaldo proving to be the most wasteful of the United players.
The goal had still not come, so United simply piled on more pressure, just waiting for the Portsmouth defence to crumble. But by half-time, Portsmouth still hadn't caved in, and they were growing in confidence.
The game resumed in much the same vein after the break, with United desperately unlucky not to score. Then, typically of United this season, disaster struck.
Ricardo Fuller took advantage of the lack of United defenders at the back, and, after pouncing on a through-ball, he charged towards the United area. Rio struggled to get back, and ended up tugging Fullers shirt - with the result being a penalty for the home side. Unsworth knocked the ball in from ten yards, and United were losing.
Equally typical of United this season, they didn't give up, but instead rallied round, and began to create yet more chances. And push further up the field. In truth, United's finishing wasn't good enough, and they should have taken their opportunities.
United left more gaps at the back in their urgency to score, and consequently conceded a second when Fuller pounced again. United lurched forwards again, but the game was already lost, and the three points they'd gained against Arsenal were given greater perspective. Whether it was bad luck or not, the fact remains
We simply cannot afford to lose to this calibre of opposition. Full stop.
Portsmouth: Hislop, Primus, De Zeeuw, Stefanovic, Unsworth, Quashie, Faye, Berger (Mezague 45), LuaLua, Kamara (Fuller 32), Yakubu.
Subs Not Used: Ashdown, Griffin, Cisse.
Goals: Unsworth 53 pen, Yakubu 72.
Man Utd: Carroll, Gary Neville (Brown 80), Ferdinand, Silvestre, Heinze, Ronaldo, Phil Neville (Keane 65), Scholes, Giggs, Rooney, Smith
Subs Not Used: Miller, Ricardo.
Booked: Rooney, Ferdinand.
Ref: N Barry (N Lincolnshire).