Rooney had veteran Ryan Giggs to thank for two of his goals
By Mandeep Sanghera
Wayne Rooney's hat-trick helped guide Manchester United to victory over bottom-of-the table Portsmouth.
Rooney put the visitors ahead from the spot after he was brought down by Michael Brown only for Kevin-Prince Boateng's penalty to haul Pompey level.
Ryan Giggs crossed for Rooney to slot in and the Welsh winger was then fouled to allow the England striker to grab his third with a second penalty.
Giggs added a late free-kick as United kept the pressure on leaders Chelsea.
The win moved United to within two points of Premier League table-toppers Chelsea, who play Arsenal on Sunday.
It was Giggs' 100th Premier League goal and capped a performance of vision and verve which has been the trademark of an illustrious career - and this a day ahead of the his 36th birthday.
Modest Rooney praises Giggs' form
United boss Sir Alex Ferguson had to watch from the stands as he began the first of a two-game touchline ban and, in an even first half, it was far from comfortable viewing for the Scot before his team eased away to victory.
Portsmouth had new manager Avram Grant in charge and, although he will take encouragement from the display, he knows his side need to start converting some promising play into points.
The Fratton Park side have bemoaned a lack of fortune this season with seven of 10 Premier League defeats being by the odd goal.
They certainly did not lack a fight and fervour to their play against United but it was a lack of composure in front of goal against the top-flight champions rather than luck which proved their downfall.
Striker Aruna Dindane was Pompey's main culprit as he squandered three gilt-edged chances and capitalise on an early spell of pressure.
Dindane was played in behind the United defence by Prince-Boateng but took too long to get his shot off and United keeper Tomasz Kuszczak quickly came out to smother the danger.
Ivorian Dindane then sent a 22-yard shot just wide and also headed past the post from 10 yards when unmarked as he met an inviting cross from Jamie O'Hara.
Kuszczak had also tipped over a 20-yard strike from O'Hara which was bound for the top corner as United were unusually forced on to the back foot.
However, the visitors have the type of players capable of turning defence into attack in an instant and duly did so as they punished Pompey's profligacy.
Rooney exchanged passes with Antonio Valencia as the pair led a swift United counter-attack before the England striker won a penalty after being fouled by Brown.
The Pompey midfielder protested his innocence but television replays appeared to show Brown catching Rooney, who picked himself up to calmly score from the penalty spot.
To their credit, Pompey continued to force the issue and were given a route back into the game when they were also awarded a penalty.
Grant questions penalty decisions
United centre-back Nemanja Vidic appeared to be harshly punished for tugging at Frederic Piquionne's shirt as they went up for an O'Hara free-kick and Prince-Boateng, who missed a spot-kick last week, made no mistake this time.
Dindane headed wide as he spurned another chance, while Paul Scholes had a shot deflected narrowly wide as the game developed into a sparky affair.
But any hopes Portsmouth had of causing an upset suffered a major setback as United raised their game after the break, with Giggs setting up Rooney's second goal.
Giggs was found by a Darren Fletcher ball from midfield and immediately curled in a ball for Rooney to slot past keeper Asmir Begovic.
Giggs's persistence then saw him win the ball back off Piquionne, who brought down the midfielder to leave referee Mike Dean little choice but to award a third penalty of the match.
Rooney completed his hat-trick - his third for the Old Trafford outfit - by sending Begovic the wrong way to give United some breathing space before Giggs curled a 22-yard free-kick into the bottom corner.
Pompey continued to battle on and John Utaka hit the crossbar but the visitors, ultimately, proved too strong.
Portsmouth manager Avram Grant: "If I came from the moon and heard the result I would have thought Man Utd played great and Portsmouth was not so good but we played very well.
"I thought we played better. We created chances and conceded soft goals.
"Our goalkeeper almost didn't touch the ball and (United keeper) Tomasz Kuszczak made three great saves."
Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson: "Ryan Giggs is an exceptional player. A rarity. He will play for two years yet."
He added: "So many things were happening (in the match). It is a great result for us and some of the football was good.
"In the second half we kept our discipline and the ball very well and deserved the win in the end."
90:00+3:18 The referee brings the game to a close.
90:00+2:54 A cross is delivered by Gary Neville.
90:00+0:14 John Utaka takes the chance to get an effort at goal. Tomasz Kuszczak makes a save. Kevin-Prince Boateng takes a shot. Tomasz
Kuszczak makes a save.
88:27 Patrice Evra concedes a free kick for a foul on Younes Kaboul. Shot comes in from Jamie O'Hara from the free kick.
87:08 Corner taken left-footed by Jamie O'Hara from the right by-line, clearance made by Nemanja Vidic.
86:10 GOAL - Ryan Giggs:Portsmouth 1 - 4 Man Utd Ryan Giggs grabs a goal direct from the free kick from outside the penalty box to the bottom left corner of the goal. Portsmouth
1-4 Man Utd.
85:16 Booking John Utaka is cautioned by the ref for unsporting behaviour.
85:05 John Utaka concedes a free kick for a foul on Patrice Evra.
84:47 Foul by Tal Ben-Haim on Oliveira Anderson, free kick awarded. Nemanja Vidic takes the direct free kick.
82:55 Antonio Valencia delivers the ball, Marc Wilson makes a clearance. Outswinging corner taken from the left by-line by Ryan
82:16 The ball is crossed by John Utaka, Wes Brown manages to make a clearance.
82:08 Booking Paul Scholes booked for unsporting behaviour.
81:33 The referee blows for offside. Asmir Begovic takes the indirect free kick.
80:43 Substitution Aruna Dindane leaves the field to be replaced by Tommy Smith.
Correction - 78:40 Antonio Valencia produces a right-footed shot from inside the area that clears the crossbar.
78:40 Antonio Valencia produces a right-footed shot from inside the area that goes over the bar.
78:08 John Utaka takes a shot. Nemanja Vidic gets a block in.
77:54 Booking Jamie O'Hara shown a yellow card.
77:17 Free kick awarded for a foul by Jamie O'Hara on Antonio Valencia. Gary Neville restarts play with the free kick.
77:17 Substitution John Utaka on for Hassan Yebda.
Correction - 75:17 Substitution Oliveira Anderson joins the action as a substitute, replacing Michael Carrick.
Correction - 75:17 Foul by Michael Brown on Michael Carrick, free kick awarded. Wes Brown takes the free kick.
75:17 Substitution Oliveira Anderson comes on in place of Michael Carrick.
75:17 Michael Brown gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Michael Carrick. Direct free kick taken by Wes Brown,
73:11 Kevin-Prince Boateng takes a shot. Tomasz Kuszczak makes a save.
71:39 Short corner taken by Jamie O'Hara from the right by-line.
68:13 The ball is sent over by Jamie O'Hara, Wes Brown manages to make a clearance. Aruna Dindane takes a shot. Nemanja Vidic gets
a block in. Short corner worked by Jamie O'Hara, Younes Kaboul takes a shot. Wes Brown gets a block in. The assistant referee
flags for offside against Jamie O'Hara. Indirect free kick taken by Tomasz Kuszczak.
67:02 Kevin-Prince Boateng takes a shot. Wes Brown gets a block in.
66:10 Gary Neville takes the direct free kick.
66:10 Booking Kevin-Prince Boateng is cautioned.
66:04 Kevin-Prince Boateng challenges Gary Neville unfairly and gives away a free kick.
64:25 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Gary Neville by Kevin-Prince Boateng. Direct free kick taken by Gary Neville.
62:58 Ryan Giggs takes a shot. Save by Asmir Begovic.
61:55 Substitution (Portsmouth) makes a substitution, with Nwankwo Kanu coming on for Frederic Piquionne.
61:55 Booking Gary Neville shown a yellow card.
61:34 Unfair challenge on Aruna Dindane by Wes Brown results in a free kick. Marc Wilson restarts play with the free kick.
59:26 Antonio Valencia fouled by Jamie O'Hara, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick crossed by Ryan Giggs, Kevin-Prince Boateng
manages to make a clearance. Corner taken left-footed by Ryan Giggs from the right by-line to the near post, Frederic Piquionne
manages to make a clearance.
58:44 Effort on goal by Kevin-Prince Boateng from outside the box goes harmlessly over the bar.
56:48 Effort from deep inside the area by Antonio Valencia misses to the left of the target.
54:51 Headed effort from deep inside the penalty area by Aruna Dindane goes harmlessly over the crossbar.
53:56 Ryan Giggs provided the assist for the goal.
53:56 GOAL - Wayne Rooney:Portsmouth 1 - 3 Man Utd Placed penalty scored by Wayne Rooney. Portsmouth 1-3 Man Utd.
53:05 Frederic Piquionne challenges Ryan Giggs unfairly and gives away a Penalty.
51:39 Corner taken by Ryan Giggs played to the near post, clearance made by Michael Brown. Outswinging corner taken left-footed
by Ryan Giggs from the left by-line, Younes Kaboul makes a clearance.
49:19 Wayne Rooney takes a shot. Marc Wilson gets a block in.
47:26 The assist for the goal came from Ryan Giggs.
47:26 GOAL - Wayne Rooney:Portsmouth 1 - 2 Man Utd Goal scored by Wayne Rooney from inside the penalty box to the bottom right corner of the goal. Portsmouth 1-2 Man Utd.
45:27 Foul by Aruna Dindane on Wes Brown, free kick awarded. Tomasz Kuszczak takes the free kick.
45:01 The referee blows his whistle to start the second half.
45:00+1:57 The ref blows to signal half-time.
45:00+1:54 Antonio Valencia crosses the ball.
45:00 Nemanja Vidic challenges Aruna Dindane unfairly and gives away a free kick. Younes Kaboul produces a shot on goal direct from
the free kick, save made by Tomasz Kuszczak.
44:31 Hermann Hreidarsson fouled by Gary Neville, the ref awards a free kick. Kevin-Prince Boateng takes the direct free kick.
Correction - 43:42 Unfair challenge on Kevin-Prince Boateng by Darren Fletcher results in a free kick. Free kick crossed left-footed by Jamie
O'Hara, clearance made by Nemanja Vidic.
43:42 Foul by Darren Fletcher on Kevin-Prince Boateng, free kick awarded. Free kick crossed left-footed by Jamie O'Hara from left
channel, clearance by Nemanja Vidic.
41:41 Paul Scholes takes the chance to get an effort at goal. Blocked by Younes Kaboul. Corner taken by Ryan Giggs from the left
by-line. Paul Scholes takes a shot. Blocked by Younes Kaboul. The offside flag is raised against Ryan Giggs.
41:16 Frederic Piquionne crosses the ball, Wes Brown manages to make a clearance.
40:54 The ball is sent over by Gary Neville, Marc Wilson makes a clearance.
40:01 Free kick awarded for a foul by Michael Brown on Darren Fletcher. The free kick is swung in left-footed by Ryan Giggs, clearance
by Marc Wilson.
39:10 Hermann Hreidarsson concedes a free kick for a foul on Antonio Valencia. Free kick crossed by Ryan Giggs, clearance made by
37:06 Booking Nemanja Vidic receives a caution.
36:54 Nemanja Vidic gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Aruna Dindane. Jamie O'Hara restarts play with the free kick.
36:24 Kevin-Prince Boateng crosses the ball, Headed effort on goal by Aruna Dindane from inside the penalty box misses to the right
of the goal.
34:59 Paul Scholes takes a shot. Blocked by Michael Brown. Corner taken left-footed by Ryan Giggs.
34:13 Jamie O'Hara takes a shot. Gary Neville gets a block in.
Correction - 31:53 The assist for the goal came from Frederic Piquionne.
31:53 Assist by Frederic Piquionne.
31:53 GOAL - Kevin-Prince Boateng:Portsmouth 1 - 1 Man Utd Penalty taken right-footed by Kevin-Prince Boateng and scored. Portsmouth 1-1 Man Utd.
Correction - 29:56 Darren Fletcher handles the ball and concedes a free kick. Free kick crossed by Jamie O'Hara, Nemanja Vidic challenges Frederic
Piquionne unfairly and gives away a Penalty.
29:56 Darren Fletcher handles the ball and concedes a free kick. Jamie O'Hara crosses the ball in from the free kick, Foul by Tomasz
Kuszczak on Frederic Piquionne, Penalty awarded.
28:04 Patrice Evra produces a cross, save made by Asmir Begovic.
27:00 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Kevin-Prince Boateng by Gary Neville. Jamie O'Hara produces a cross, Headed effort
on goal by Hermann Hreidarsson from inside the penalty box misses to the right of the target.
25:14 Hassan Yebda fouled by Michael Carrick, the ref awards a free kick. The ball is delivered by Jamie O'Hara, Hermann Hreidarsson
takes a shot from 12 yards.
24:03 GOAL - Wayne Rooney:Portsmouth 0 - 1 Man Utd Placed penalty scored by Wayne Rooney. Portsmouth 0-1 Man Utd.
22:50 Michael Brown concedes a Penalty for a foul on Wayne Rooney.
21:41 Patrice Evra has an effort at goal from deep inside the area missing to the left of the goal.
21:19 Ryan Giggs crosses the ball, Marc Wilson manages to make a clearance.
20:43 The ball is crossed by Darren Fletcher, clearance by Tal Ben-Haim.
20:03 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Gary Neville by Kevin-Prince Boateng. Gary Neville takes the free kick.
17:35 Antonio Valencia delivers a pass corner to short.
17:08 Booking Aruna Dindane receives a yellow card for unsporting behaviour.
16:48 Free kick awarded for a foul by Aruna Dindane on Wes Brown. Free kick taken by Wes Brown.
15:17 Jamie O'Hara takes a shot. Tomasz Kuszczak makes a save. Corner taken left-footed by Jamie O'Hara from the left by-line, clearance
by Nemanja Vidic. Younes Kaboul takes a shot. Save by Tomasz Kuszczak. Centre by Jamie O'Hara, Headed effort from deep inside
the area by Aruna Dindane misses to the left of the goal.
13:44 Aruna Dindane has an effort at goal from outside the penalty box which goes wide left of the goal.
12:37 The ball is sent over by Hermann Hreidarsson.
12:09 Free kick awarded for a foul by Hassan Yebda on Michael Carrick. Direct free kick taken by Nemanja Vidic.
11:52 Aruna Dindane takes a shot. Save made by Tomasz Kuszczak.
9:59 Kevin-Prince Boateng concedes a free kick for a foul on Antonio Valencia. The free kick is swung in left-footed by Ryan Giggs,
clearance made by Hermann Hreidarsson. Corner taken by Ryan Giggs, Effort on goal by Paul Scholes from just inside the penalty
area goes harmlessly over the target.
8:57 The ball is sent over by Ryan Giggs, Asmir Begovic makes a save.
7:07 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Kevin-Prince Boateng by Antonio Valencia. Jamie O'Hara takes the free kick.
3:50 Darren Fletcher takes a shot. Blocked by Marc Wilson.
2:10 The ball is crossed by Antonio Valencia, Marc Wilson makes a clearance.
0:00 The referee starts the match.
Live text and data provided by The Press Association.
This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.