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United moved back to the top of the Barclays Premier League, albeit only for 24 hours, with an emphatic victory over beleaguered Portsmouth at Old Trafford.
Wayne Rooney, Dimitar Berbatov and Michael Carrick struck for the Reds, while own-goals from Pompey's Anthony Vanden Borre and Marc Wilson piled more misery on the league's basement side and assured the champions of a healthy goal difference boost.
Although Avram Grant's men threatened briefly during the first half, United mustered a five-goal spell in under 30 minutes either side of the interval to swat aside any notion of the visitors springing an almighty upset.
Playing on the 52nd anniversary of Munich, the match was preceded by an immaculately observed minute's silence. Then, from the first whistle, the two teams both firmly encamped in Portsmouth's half for the opening 10 minutes.
Although the visitors' pragmatic ploy created a possession monopoly for United, time and again a Pompey body would block a shot or the Reds' final ball would fail to pierce the massed ranks of defensive bodies, and it took 12 minutes for any real brush with an advantage. A short corner reached Gary Neville, and the skipper's inch-perfect cross was headed fractionally past the far upright by Jonny Evans, with David James motionless.
That scare sparked the visitors into a modicum of attacking activity, however. Former United youth striker Danny Webber broke away and slipped a pass to Belgian right-back Vanden Borre, whose powerful shot was beaten away by Edwin van der Sar. From the resulting corner, the Dutchman was called into another smart stop by Nadir Belhadj's stinging low