Manchester United 2 Portsmouth 1: Tevez on the money with dominant display to reward slick United

Click to follow
The Independent Football

Manchester United took the honours in the first of three meetings in a month with Portsmouth.

Chris Eagles and Carlos Tevez did the damage for the English and European champions in tonight's friendly against the FA Cup winners.

Although both sides will expect improvement when they meet again in the Community Shield on August 10 and, more importantly still, the Barclays Premier League two weeks after that.

Should the Premier League ever manage to force through their badly-received plan for a 39th game on tour, it is to be hoped they keep ticket prices at a reasonable level.

For, while Nigeria as a whole and Abuja in particular are viewed as teeming with United supporters, the national stadium was sparsely populated tonight, lending a further air of unreality to an already surreal occasion.

With both sides in action 24 hours ago, there was little surprise in Sir Alex Ferguson and Harry Redknapp making wholesale changes.

Only Tomasz Kuszczak, Michael Carrick and Nemanja Vidic kept their places for United, with Wayne Rooney giving way to a dead leg and Rio Ferdinand returning home to be with his pregnant wife.

Portsmouth opened with a stronger-looking starting line-up but Redknapp was making worrying changes before half-time as both Noe Paramot and John Utaka were forced off.

The twin setback hardly helped Pompey get any rhythm into their game, although they were mostly second-best anyway.

There were a few glimpses of an emerging partnership between £11million new-boy Peter Crouch and Jermain Defoe but with Vidic and Jonny Evans performing well at the back, United's goal was never seriously breached.

The same could not be said for Portsmouth, who were fortunate not to be behind after just six minutes.

Frazier Campbell's pace seemed to catch the Pompey defence out but while David James had the sense to pull out of his intended challenge, Glen Johnson did not and he clattered into the United man to concede a needless penalty.

Tevez's first attempt nestled neatly in the bottom corner. But the retake, ordered after referee Emmanuel Emire had caught Eagles encroaching, came crashing back off the crossbar.

It began a succession of missed chances for the Red Devils.

Eagles himself was at fault midway through the half. As the midfielder must be running out of chances to prove himself at Old Trafford, Eagles would no doubt have been relieved to get his name on the scoresheet after half-time.

However, the one that got away, after he had stormed clean through then pushed a disappointing shot wide, did not look good.

Campbell met with an equal lack of success just before the break, so Eagles was not the only man relieved as United made the decisive breakthrough.

The goal itself was somewhat scrappy, Pompey somehow failing to take a number of opportunities to make a routine clearance inside their penalty area.

Eagles though finished in clinical fashion, the undoubted high point of a 78-minute outing for the Watford-born player.

However, Eagles was soon to be upstaged by Tevez, keen to atone for his penalty miss.

He did so spectacularly, driving into the box before unleashing a thunderous shot that gave James no chance.

As Tevez had also been booked for a blatant hack at Papa Bouba Diop, Nigeria saw both sides of the South American's character, although there is little doubt his talent is worthy of the £33million deal United are believed to be putting together to gain full ownership of the player.

Defoe halved the deficit in the final minute but United, for whom skipper Gary Neville came through the full 90 minutes, still sauntered home in the final game of their four-match tour of Africa.

Comments