28/11/2009 13:48, Report by Steve Bartram
Portsmouth 1 United 4
support transformed Fratton Park into a bubbling cauldron of noise. United, hitherto untroubled, were suddenly on the back foot. Dindane sent two quickfire efforts comfortably off target, but in-between Kuszczak was again forced into action; making a superb fingertip save from Jamie O'Hara's dipping effort.
During a brief lull in the Pompey storm, however, United moved into the lead. Shortly after Patrice Evra had drilled just past Asmir Begovic's post, Rooney swapped passes with Valencia and was caught by Michael Brown. The England striker dusted himself down and fired a clinical spot-kick inside the Bosnian's left-hand post, much to the chagrin of an irate home support.
Their collective mood was quickly soothed, however, in mystifying circumstances. A routine free-kick from O'Hara was curled into the United area, and seemingly punched to safety by Kuszczak. To the befuddlement of players and onlookers alike, referee Mike Dean awarded a second penalty on the say-so of his assistant, most probably for a slight shirt tug by Nemanja Vidic on Frederic Piquionne.
As United's confusion raged on, Boateng took advantage of the opportunity by drilling the penalty low to Kuszczak's right, just over the Pole's despairing dive. Certainly an injustice for United in terms of the penalty's award, but the hosts were deserving of their parity.
Over the remainder of an increasingly fractious first half, nobody came closer than Scholes to scoring; the veteran midfielder's powerful drive flew just wide Begovic's post, via a slight deflection off Younes Kaboul. Even as the teams left for the interval, however, skipper Gary Neville's ongoing debate with referee Dean spoke volumes for the controversial penalty award.
United's frustrations were eased as the second period began, and the lead was retaken within three minutes of the restart. Fletcher and Giggs combined superbly