Rooney stars for table-topping United: Match Review

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Football News

Wayne Rooney collected the Barclays Player of the Month award before kick-off and then helped steer Manchester United back to the top of the table with a resounding 5-0 victory over struggling Portsmouth.

The England striker broke Pompey's resistance with his 23rd goal of the season, equalling a career-best total.

The only surprise, given United's possession, was it took them until the 40th minute to make the breakthrough.

However that goal gave Sir Alex Ferguson's side the impetus they needed and Portsmouth collapsed.

United added a second on the stroke of half time with Nani's effort taking two deflections.

Michael Carrick had similar luck in the second half and Dimitar Berbatov was also on target before Marc Wilson put the ball into his own net.

It was poignant day at Old Trafford as the club commemorated the 52nd anniversary of the Munich Air Disaster in which 23 people, eight of them players, died.

Old Trafford boss Ferguson will no doubt feel the result did the occasion justice.

United began on the front foot and Jonny Evans headed narrowly wide after a cross from the edge of the area by Gary Neville.

Portsmouth, however, launched a swift counter attack and Edwin van der Sar did well to parry a powerful shot from Anthony Vanden Borre.

Rooney tried to work an opening in the 22nd minute but his effort came off the back of Tal Ben Haim and was taken by David James.

Then Nani released Rooney after skipping down the wing in the 33rd minute and he turned quickly only to fire a shot over the bar.

Portsmouth, however, almost opened the scoring a minute later with a spirited response.

Nadir Belhadji got into a good position only to see his effort cleared off the line by Evans and he then failed to make good use of the rebound.

Play switched back down the other end and Berbatov was wasteful in front of the posts.

He somehow managed to turn his effort wide in the 35th minute when it seemed easier to score after Antonio Valencia and Neville cut Portsmouth open.

United did not have to wait long before going ahead and inevitably it was Rooney who scored.

He got on the end of a cross from Darren Fletcher in the 40th minute to send a header beyond James.

United added a second on the stroke of half time, Nani's close range effort taking a deflection first off Anthony Vanden Borre and then James.

The home side restarted in the same vein and Nani sent a shot high over the bar in the 49th minute after a cut-back from Berbatov.

United almost added a third in the 54th minute but James turned Valencia's effort around the post after the winger had played a neat one-two with Berbatov.

Four minutes later James was again cursing his luck as Carrick's drive took a wicked deflection off Michael Hughes and left the goalkeeper stranded.

United maintained the momentum and made it 4-0 on the hour with Berbatov regaining possession and sending a low shot into the corner after Portsmouth failed to close him down.

It was becoming a rout and manager Avram Grant was left scratching his head in disbelief at the way his team had collapsed.

Rooney then picked out Darren Fletcher at the back post but Richard Hughes read the situation well and headed to safety.

Even though United were poised to go back to the top of the table the home supporters were anxious for their side to improve their goals tally.

They got their wish in 69th minute when Wilson turned Patrice Evra's cross into his own net to make it 5-0 to the champions.

Substitute Mame Biram Diouf should have added a sixth goal but skied a shot over the bar in the 80th minute.

United, however, had to be content with a five-star show which was good enough to overtake Chelsea at the top of the table.

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

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