United snap at Chelsea’s heels

Rooney bags hat-trick against Portsmouth to keep champions within two points of title rivals

LONDON: A Wayne Rooney hat-trick fired Manchester United back to within two points of Chelsea at the top of the Premier League as the champions inflicted a 4-1 defeat on Portsmouth in Avram Grant’s first match in charge.

SPOT ON: Referee Mike Dean blows his whistle for a penalty after Manchester United's Ryan Giggs is fouled by Portsmouth's Federic Piquonne during the match at Fratton Park in Portsmouth. United won the game 4-1 on Saturday. -AFP photo

SPOT ON: Referee Mike Dean blows his whistle for a penalty after Manchester United's Ryan Giggs is fouled by Portsmouth's Federic Piquonne during the match at Fratton Park in Portsmouth. United won the game 4-1 on Saturday. -AFP photo

Elsewhere, Tottenham came from behind to register a 1-1 draw at Aston Villa     that keeps Harry Redknapp’s side three points clear of their opponents in fourth place, while Manchester City remain in sixth after a seventh successive draw, at home to struggling Hull.

Rooney converted two penalties either side of a first-time finish from a Ryan Giggs pass to help United to a win that increases the pressure on Chelsea to take something from yesterday’s trip to Arsenal.

Giggs capped a fine display by claiming the 100th Premier League goal of his career with a late free-kick on the eve of his 36th birthday.

“It was a great result for us because 4-1 away from home is always something you are pleased with,” said United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, who predicted that Giggs will be starring for United for at least another two years.

Portsmouth had appeared galvanised by the new manager but their good early work was undone when Michael Brown pulled down Rooney to concede the opening penalty.

Kevin-Prince Boateng equalised with another penalty but Rooney re-established United’s lead three minutes after the restart and then killed the contest by sending Asmir Begovic the wrong way after Piquionne had brought down Giggs.

The defeat leaves Portsmouth three points adrift at the bottom of the table with just seven points from 14 matches, underlining the scale of the task former Chelsea and Israel manager Grant has taken on.

“Everybody can see we play football, the spirit is good but there are a few things missing,” Grant acknowledged.

Tottenham grabbed a deserved point at Villa thanks to a 77th-minute equaliser from Andy Dawson, cancelling out Gabriel Agbonlahor’s first-half opener for the home side.

Manchester City had only themselves to blame for their failure to see off Hull.

Shaun Wright-Phillips gave City the lead in first-half stoppage time with a 25-yard shot that found the net with the help of a deflection off Hull defender Anthony Gardner.

But City paid the price for failing to convert a string of second-half chances when Joleon Lescott was adjudged to have handled in the area with eight minutes left.

Jimmy Bullard converted the penalty to extend Hull’s unbeaten run to four matches.

West Ham were the day’s highest scorers with Gianfranco Zola’s men claiming a badly-needed boost to morale by beating Burnley 5-3 at Upton Park.

Jack Collison, Junior Stanislas and Carlton Cole, from the spot, ensured the Hammers were in the driving seat by half-time.

Guillermo Franco and Luis Jimenez extended the lead before a Steven Fletcher double and a Chris Eagles strike made the score more respectable for the visitors, who finished with ten men after Steven Caldwell was ordered off for a professional foul.

Wigan bounced back from last weekend’s 9-1 mauling at Tottenham with a 1-0 win over Sunderland that was sealed by Colombian striker Hugo Rodallega’s 76th-minute strike.

Damien Duff rescued a point for Fulham with a 75th-minute equaliser against relegation-threatened Bolton after Ivan Klasnic had given the visitors hope of a badly-needed victory by firing them into the lead       ten minutes before the interval.

Blackburn and Stoke’s meeting at Ewood Park ended goalless. — AFP

What do you think of this story?
  • Angry (0%)
  • Sad (0%)
  • Nothing (0%)
  • Interesting (0%)
  • Great (0%)

 

Affiliates

 

Supplement Downloads

Member of