Ched Evans hit a 25-yard free-kick to earn Sheffield United a scarcely-deserved 1-0 win and pile the misery on beleaguered Portsmouth in the npower Championship.

Evans rattled in United's only shot on target with 15 minutes remaining to ensure Pompey somehow left Bramall Lane empty-handed despite dominating from start to finish.

Evans may have been United's match-winner, but the home side were reliant on an inspired Steve Simonsen to make a string of fine saves and keep Portsmouth at bay.

The former Stoke keeper made stops to deny John Utaka, David Nugent and Liam Lawrence as Pompey tried in vain to register their first league win of the season.

They could not make the elusive breakthrough, though, and remain winless and rooted to the foot of the table after seven games, while United will be rubbing their hands at the win which masked a dismal overall performance.

Both sides were looking to respond to heavy midweek defeats, where they shipped four goals apiece, and it was Portsmouth that carved out the first opening with just two minutes on the clock.

John Utaka advanced down the left, cut inside past his marker and fired a low shot that brought a stunning save out of Simonsen in the United goal, strongly palming away a vicious shot.

It was a bright opening by Pompey and David Nugent would have been disappointed not to connect better with his 15-yard effort after Michael Brown's pass, while Utaka proved a constant threat down the left.

And after lacking a cutting edge for the first 40 minutes, Gary Speed's men finally got in behind the Portsmouth defence and they should have taken the lead.

Evans made good progress down the left and invitingly pulled back for Johnny Ertl but he sliced his shot wide from the edge of the area.

Utaka was again the architect as Pompey showed some early second-half promise when he again beat Jean Calve with ease before seeing his shot blocked by Ertl, while Nugent's header at the far post was clawed away by Simonsen.

Pompey were searching in vain for a deserved lead and Simonsen was again called into action with a stretching save to deny Liam Lawrence after the Republic of Ireland international had played a neat one-two with Nugent on the edge of the area.

The onslaught continued against a dismal home side and Simonsen came to the hosts' rescue when his flying save tipped Lawrence's free-kick around the post.

The visitors were unable to force an opener, though, and with 15 minutes remaining they paid the ultimate price when United went ahead with their first shot on target.

After Carl Dickinson had handled, Evans stepped up and thumped a low effort past Jamie Ashdown and in off the post from 25 yards to give the Blades a lead even their most optimistic of fans could not have expected.

Pompey pushed for a leveller in the final stages and Dave Kitson fired wide from an angle as they were left to rue a host of missed chances.

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

Topics:
#Gary Speed
#Steve Simonsen
#Internationals
#Michael Brown
#Championship
#Jamie Ashdown
#Carl Dickinson
#Sheffield United
#David Nugent
#Dave Kitson
#Liam Lawrence
#John Utaka
#Ched Evans
#David Nugent
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