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Last Updated: Saturday, 1 November, 2003, 16:56 GMT
Man Utd see off Pompey
Ruud van Nistelrooy (left) holds off Hayden Fox

Man United 3-0 Portsmouth

Manchester United kept up the pressure on Arsenal and Chelsea at the top of the Premiership with a comfortable win over Portsmouth at Old Trafford.

After an unimpressive start to the game United went in front before the break when Diego Forlan continued his good run of form by converting from Ryan Giggs' header.

Despite a hard-working display from the visitors United's lead never really looked in danger and substitute Cristiano Ronaldo doubled their lead with a free-kick 10 minutes from the end.

Captain Roy Keane - also a second-half replacement - made sure of the points with a well-struck left-foot shot just two minutes later.

The comfort of their victory betrayed what had been a slow start from United, and like Fulham last week Portsmouth sensed an early opportunity to take control.

They dominated possession in the early stages, and Yakubu fired wide before Patrick Berger surged forward from halfway and blasted a right-foot shot over Tim Howard's crossbar with the United defence backing off.

KEY MOMENTS
30 mins: Van Nistelrooy volleys against the crossbar
37 mins: Forlan converts from Giggs' knock-down
79 mins: Ronaldo nets his first goal for United
82 mins: Keane drills home the third to seal the points

The champions could not create anything, and Yakubu blasted straight at Howard after he robbed Rio Ferdinand near the corner flag, when perhaps a pass to an unmarked Teddy Sheringham would have been a better option.

But slowly United hauled themselves back into the game, and Van Nistelrooy produced a sublime turn and volley that grazed the top of the bar and sparked Sir Alex Ferguson's men into life.

After 36 minutes Van Nistelrooy blazed uncharacteristically over when clean through, but Portsmouth could only hang on for another minute.

Gary Neville's cross from the right was headed back across goal by Giggs, and Forlan was on hand to steer the ball past Shaka Hislop.

Portsmouth came out after the break keen to get back on level terms, and Yakubu set up Boris Zivkovic to head at Howard before Berger fired over from outside the penalty area.

Eric Djemba-Djemba then mis-kicked from a good position as United came back into it and Giggs began to weave his magic down the left as the home side looked to put the result beyond doubt.

With 64 minutes on the clock Darren Fletcher chipped the ball over the advancing Hislop, only for Nicky Butt to head wide when he should have hit the target.

Portsmouth were just about surviving but Ferguson brought on Keane and Ronaldo with 15 minutes left to try to hold onto their lead and perhaps snatch another.

The plan worked to perfection when the Portuguese teenager doubled United's lead 10 minutes from the end with his first goal in English football from a free-kick.

Then two minutes later Keane notched his 49th United goal with a sweet left-foot strike after more good work from Ronaldo.


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).




WATCH AND LISTEN
BBC Five Live's Nigel Adderley
"The arrival of Ronaldo and Keane off the bench changed the mood"


Man Utd boss Sir Alex Ferguson
"We played some very good football"




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