Rooney Hat-Trick Downs Pompey

A second half capitulation from Pompey allowed Wayne Rooney and Manchester United to comfortably win 4-1 at Fratton Park after a frantic first half.

I've not long come home from the game and I'm both disappointed and drenched because I thought after a first half where we outplayed the Champions, we might have gone on to record another famous win over the Red Devils.

Grant picked the same side that lost to Stoke only with Begovic replacing Ashdown in goal and this team took the game to the Champions but squandered many chances to score either because Aruna Dindane can't hit a barn door or Tomas Kuczszak puuled out a blinding save to deny O'Hara.

The Fratton Park crowd reacted furiously when Rooney went down under Brown's "challenge" in the box for United's first spot kick of the afternoon. It was a soft decision to say the least and even harder to take considering we had been on top for much of the game.

Thankfully, Pompey got back into the game with a soft penalty of their own. O'Hara's free kick into the box didn't seem dangerous and the crowd seemed confused when Mike Dean pointed to the spot, apparently for a tug on Piquionne's shirt by Vidic.

I have to give praise to Kevin-Prince Boateng for having the bottle to step up and take the spot kick after last week's miss at Stoke but he made no mistake this time and Pompey were fortunately but deservedly level as the teams went into the break at 1-1.

So, what happened at the start of the second half then? For some reason we just didn't turn up and our defence allowed Ryan Giggs to split our defence apart with one pass to Rooney who scored his second of the evening.

The game was over minutes later after another controversial penalty as it looked to me like Piquionne had tripped Giggs outside the box, though Mike Dean thought it was inside and Rooney converted the resulting penalty to complete his hat-trick.

After that United simply kept the ball and we struggled to get any passage of play going as United threatened a fourth and eventually got it after Giggs, United's best player on the day, curled in a free kick.

With the game gone, Grant decided to give some of our other forwards a try so on came Kanu, the criminally under-used Tommy Smith and forgotten man John Utaka during the second half to try and grab a goal and it was Utaka who came closest with a volley that Kuszczak did extremely well to keep out.

Overall, I was disappointed by the result and the second half performance in particular where we just seemed to go to sleep for not particular reason. We can take plenty of encouragement from the first half showing though and if we had a potent striker or two, the result may have well been different.

Burnley next week is the biggest game of the season now. With results going against us Pompey are now 7 points adrift of safety and it could be worse by the time the weekend is over.

Fail to beat the Clarets, and we can kiss Pompey's Premier League status goodbye and that will have disasterous consequences.

Pompey Player Ratings

Asmir Begovic: 6 - No chance with the goals and produced a couple of great saves.

Tal Ben-Haim: 5 - Played us into danger with poor clearances.

Younes Kaboul: 5 - Not his greatest game.

Marc Wilson: 6 - Some important headers.

Hermann Hreidarsson: 5 - Valencia often got the better of him.

Michael Brown: 6 - Put in a shift.

Hassan Yebda (Utaka 78): 5 - Poor passing.

Jamie O'Hara: 7 - Outstanding first half but faded in the second.

Kevin-Prince Boateng: 7 - Put penalty woes behind him.

Frederic Piquionne (Kanu 63): 5 - Offered little.

Aruna Dindane (Smith 81): 5 - Needs shooting coaching.


Jamie Ashdown

Anthony Vanden Borre

Nadir Belhadj

Richard Hughes

John Utaka (Yebda 78): N/A - Unlucky not to score late on.

Kanu (Piquionne 63): 6 - Didn't change anything.

Tommy Smith (Dindane 81): N/A - Not enough time.