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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Manchester United Vs. Portsmouth Video Clips


Ronaldo: His best goal yet?

Cristiano Ronaldo believes his stunning free-kick goal against Portsmouth could be the best of his career so far.

In a post-match interview, United's leading scorer pondered: "It's difficult to say but maybe this one is the best. It's my style to shoot like that - sometimes it's a goal, sometimes not. I'm very proud to help my team."

Opposition goalkeeper David James could only shrug his shoulders after being beaten by the pearl of a setpiece. The former England goalkeeper looked awestruck and he wasn't the only player to feel that way.

Ronaldo's team-mate Michael Carrick told MUTV: "I was in the wall, trying to block David James' view. I just turned around and saw it go in the top corner. It was a fantastic free-kick, probably the best one he's scored. It was nice to see it fly in.

"He practices an awful lot and obviously the more you do that, the better you'll get. A few have flown in this season and I don't think that's down to luck. We all know the ability he's got. Hopefully he can keep that going for the rest of the season and score a few more."

Reds defender Nemanja Vidic added: "It was unbelievable. I think it was the best goal I've seen in a game I have played in."

Sir Alex Ferguson also gave Ronaldo's 13th-minute strike top billing, telling MUTV: "That must be the best free-kick in the Premier League.

"It was a marvellous hit. It was within two inches of the junction of the crossbar and the post. No goalkeeper in the world could possibly save it." Read more...

Sir Alex surprise at scoreline

Sir Alex Ferguson was left in awe at some of the attacking, penetrating football United produced again Portsmouth, but was baffled that the scoreline was a deceptive 2-0.

The Reds created a host of chances and could have easily trebled the scoreline, but he remains satisfied with the quality of United’s play.

“It was a fantastic performance from us,” he told Sky Sports. “It’s one of the best displays of the season.

“I just can’t believe it was only 2-0,” he added. “We opened them up so many times. There was a bit of misfortune, shots were blocked and the goalkeeper made a few saves. But we missed some chances.

“But we have to think about the performance. The energy we put in was tremendous. I’m really pleased with that.

“The movement and penetration was very good. And I thought Ji-sung and Nani were really helped that from the flanks.” Read more...

Manchester United Vs. Portsmouth result Report

Cristiano Ronaldo continued his irrepressible goalscoring form with yet another delightful double to sink Portsmouth and send United back to the top of the Premier League.

His two goals – one a neat finish, the other a jaw-droppingly good 25-yard free-kick – came within three minutes of each other and completely deflated Harry Redknapp’s men.

What this excellent performance proves beyond doubt is just how ruthless the Reds can be. This was a game United controlled from start to finish, but it was less about blitzing a team for 90 minutes, and more about a clinical job, pitilessly carried out.

The visitors may have lost four key players to African Nations Cup duty, but they cannot really complain with new signings Lassana Diarra and Milan Baros bolstering their ranks. The simple fact is that United, on this attacking form, are unplayable for most opponents. Even for a Portsmouth side that has taken seven wins from 12 on the road this term - Redknapp's men arrived in Manchester confident, if perhaps quietly so.

For United it was a case of maintaining momentum. Unbeaten in 2008, the Reds’ chief aim was to regain top spot from Arsenal in what is turning into a see-saw claim for the title. Paul Scholes, making his 550th appearance for the Reds, was given his first start since mid-October, and the Salford-born midfield magician was heavily involved from the start, pinging passes all over the pitch.

He was involved in United’s opener after just ten minutes. His pass forward was chested down by Ronaldo to Nani, whose lofted return pass found his fellow countryman’s run forward. Ronaldo one-on-one with a goalkeeper: the script rarely deviates. His finish was slipped inside David James’ post.

Ronaldo, it appears, seems intent on rewriting the record books when it comes to the tag ‘goalscoring midfielder’. But his second goal of the night – three minutes after his first – deserves an entry in the dictionary under ‘unstoppable’.

Ronaldo's free-kick are hit with such venom, they could merely cannon off the wall or head high into the stands. But when he catches them right, goalkeepers might as well not bother diving. David James didn’t, as the United winger’s shot arrowed its way into the top corner. The goal took him to 27 for the season, and it sapped all enthusiasm from the Portsmouth players. They were simply unable to recover.

United continued to press forward, with Scholes, Carrick, Ronaldo, Nani, Park and Rooney interlinking beautifully to create sweeping attacking moves that Portsmouth were unable to cope with.

The Reds couldn’t add to the scoreline before half-time, but after the break Harry Redknapp gave a nod to United’s midfield dominance by switching to a five-man midfield, with Baros up front on his own.

United began the second half as positively as they had finished the first 45 minutes. Ferdinand tested James with a powerful header from Nani’s corner shortly after the restart. Then after 55 minutes, Rooney went desperately close to United’s third. Campbell failed to deal with a long ball forward - his header was never likely to reach James and it left Rooney with the chance to shoot. But the Portsmouth goalkeeper rushed back in time to keep out the United striker's chip.

Portsmouth’s change of tactics may have stemmed the tide of attacks that came their way in the first half, but it also blunted their ability to penetrate going forward.

United were still hunting a third goal, albeit without great urgency, and it would have arrived with just over 15 minutes of the match remaining but for excellent goalkeeping from James. The Pompey keeper managed to smother Park’s shot from 12 yards after nice work from Ronaldo and Rooney, and then he threw himself in front of Nani’s follow-up.

Sir Alex could afford to take off Ronaldo and Rooney with a quarter of an hour to spare. Owen Hargreaves and Carlos Tevez came on to replace them, joining Anderson who was brought on in place of Scholes ten minutes earlier.

Portsmouth dropped to walking pace at times in the closing ten minutes, which allowed United to take their foot off the pedal rather than needlessly expend energy.

Anderson was denied a goal of sheer majesty late on when his run past two players couldn’t quite be rewarded with the finish as his shot trickled wide of the post. The damage, however, had already been done. Ronaldo’s quickfire double – his fifth brace in an incredible season – had all but guaranteed the points, and restored United as the Premier League’s premier club once again.

Team Line-ups
Manchester United: Van der Sar; Brown, Ferdinand (c), Vidic, Evra; Park, Carrick, Scholes (Anderson 63), Nani; Ronaldo (Tevez 74), Rooney (Hargreaves 74).
Subs not used: Kuszczak, O’Shea.

Portsmouth: James; Johnson, Distin (Hreidarrsson 46), Campbell (c), Pamarot; Lauren (Mvuemba 46), Diarra, Davis, Kranjcar; Baros (Hughes 79), Benjani.
Subs not used: Pedro Mendes, Begovic (GK).
Booked: Pamarot

Attendance: 75,415

Nani: I'll play my part

Portuguese winger Nani says he is ready to play whenever Sir Alex Ferguson calls on him, but says patience and a determination to develop are key attributes in this stage of his United career.

Nani joined the Reds in the summer and, despite starting six of United’s first ten games of the season, has found regular appearances more difficult to come by. He has started just three of the last ten matches for the Reds.

However, the 21-year-old expected a gradual learning curve. And in an interview conducted in English, which shows he has developed an impressive grasp of English, Nani told MUTV that he is sure his time will come.

“It’s a long season so some of the players will get tired,” he said. “But we have a big squad and if we change one player it is not a problem because the players that come in do a good job.

“I am confident that, if I play, I can do well for the team. I have to wait for my opportunities and I knew that was the case when I joined. I don’t see it as a problem.”

Nani is in direct competition with United stalwart and stand-in skipper Ryan Giggs for the left wing position, a player he has great respect for.

“I am new at this club and players like Ryan Giggs have played for United for many years,” he added. “Giggs has a great history at this club. I just have to wait for my time to come and when it does I have to show that I can play well.

“I am OK and I feel settled at the club. I think I have improved a lot since I started. And as I get more games, more training and more time learning I will keep on improving as a player." Read more...

Reds have staying power

Sir Alex Ferguson has seen enough recent evidence to suggest that his United side has the endurance to keep fighting on all fronts over the remainder of the season.

United have posted five successive wins after December's defeat at West Ham, and are looking increasingly strong in the closing stages of games - much to the manager's delight.

Sunday's victory over Tottenham took the Reds into the fifth round of the FA Cup, progression that augurs well alongside top spot in the Premier League and a berth in the Champions League second round.

“I think every team goes through the December programme and there is a draining effect on everyone, every team gets it,” Sir Alex told the press.

“What’s encouraged me is that at Aston Villa in the last 20 minutes, Newcastle in the second half and Reading we looked strong. Reading make you run more than any team does, but we were so strong in the last 20 minutes again.

“That’s given me the encouragement that this is a powerful team we’ve got, who can endure gruelling competition. I’m encouraged by that.”

Paul Scholes' return against Spurs leaves only Louis Saha, Gary Neville, Ben Foster and Mikael Silvestre on the sidelines, and Sir Alex is happy that his squad depth is able to cope with whatever obstacles the second half of the season may bring.

“I’ve got Paul coming back, so we’re happy with the squad we’ve got, happy at the competitive factor in picking teams at the moment, especially in the midfield area,” he said. “It’s not easy when I’ve got so many choices.

“But my experience at this club is that when the season comes into the Saturday-Wednesday-Saturday-Wednesday situation, then you need everyone, and everyone will play their part.” Read more...

Sir Alex: All bets are off

Cristiano Ronaldo’s form is so good United boss Sir Alex Ferguson is refusing to enter into any bets with the Portuguese winger about how many goals he’ll score this season.

Ferguson famously paid out at the end of the 2006/07 campaign after the Reds’ no.7 found the net 23 times, smashing the manager's 20-goal target to finish joint top scorer alongside Wayne Rooney.

This season Ronaldo has outdone himself once again, passing last term’s tally before January has even finished. All the talk now centres on George Best’s club record of 32 goals from midfield and whether 22-year-old Ronaldo can overtake the Irishman.

Sir Alex’s targets have undoubtedly provided added motivation in the past, but the United boss believes a place in the history books is incentive enough this time around.

“No way!” the Reds boss told Manchester United Radio when asked if money would change hands should Ronaldo surpass Best’s record. “Being a Scot, I value my money.”

Ronaldo took his season tally to 25 with a double against Tottenham last weekend, although neither goal is likely to feature in his career highlights reel. Not that his manager cared…

“The boy has been fantastic recently,” Sir Alex said. “Against Spurs he showed great composure in taking his penalty kick at what was an important time in the game. His second goal was a goalkeeping mistake but if you don’t shoot you don’t score. He was rewarded for that mentality." Read more...

On a par with '99

Harry Redknapp believes his Manchester United counterpart Sir Alex Ferguson has created a squad which is close to matching the treble-winners of 1999. Redknapp believes it is a mark of Ferguson's quality that he can continue to deliver teams capable of competing at the very highest level, typified by the famous Champions League-winning side of almost nine years ago. "Alex has done a fantastic job there, hasn't he? I was at Bournemouth when I first met him 20-odd years ago and the team he's put together now could be one of his best," said the Portsmouth manager. "He's up there with all the great managers; Cloughie, Shankly, Busby – all the greats. Alex is not far from having another team as good as the one which had David Beckham, Roy Keane, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs in his prime and won the treble," Redknapp added. "But with Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, Rio Ferdinand and the rest of them now it's another fantastic team. You can't write off Chelsea and certainly not Arsenal but, for me, United are still favourites to take the title again."
Bill Pierce, The Independent