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United 0 Portsmouth 1

United crashed out the FA Cup in rather strange circumstances on Saturday, leaving many Reds scratching their heads in disbelief. United did everything possible to try and win the game, heavily dominating possession and creating numerous chances, but could not find the back of the net as hard as they tried. The Carrick chance scrambled off the line, the Evra shot against the bar and the saved Rooney one on one typified United’s day.

Portsmouth offered little to the game apart from stubborn resistance and hearty determination. At half time it seemed inevitable United would win the game, despite the goalless scoreline and a referree refusing to give a blatant penalty after Ronaldo was barged into touch. A Portsmouth fan even sent me a text to say he could not face 45 minutes more of this punishment. And despite things only getting worse for the away team in the second half they somehow clung on and stopped United scoring.

And then the moment that changed the game. A counter attack out of the blue, a one on one against a goalkeeper who had come on at half time and hardly touched the ball, and a penalty given to the away side.  A red card for Kusczak, a goalkeeping debut for Rio Ferdinand, and inevitably a 1-0 lead to Portsmouth. United now had 10 men, were trailing with 12 minutes left, and never really found the route to goal after that. A snatch and grab effort that left United as the losers.

The worry from this game is the goalkeeping issue. Van der Saar remains injured, Kusczak is now suspended and Foster is only just returning from injury.

As for the wider issue of an FA Cup without any of the ‘big 4′, I personally think it is refreshing and welcome. At least we lost to a decent side and played well, unlike Liverpool and Chelsea piddling their chances away to Barnsley, and the likes of Arsenal, Villa and Spurs all going down to us. The final may now not have names with global appeal such as Ronaldo, Rooney, Torres or Fabregas, but it will be exciting to genuine football fans who are bored of dull draws such as United and Chelsea last season, or a result that is set in stone before the hype even begins, such as when we played Millwall. The only problem will be a half empty Wembley stadium for each of the semis, but that serves the FA right for being so greedy, and that is a separate issue. At least, and let’s be honest here, whoever wins it will appreciate it more than we would have done. Chelsea won it last season but it was not enough to undo the pain of slipping away in the championship, and I imagine it could have been the same for us this year- a consolation prize for not winning the league or an added bonus on top of the title. Not to mention if we were in the final in Moscow-  then where would our minds be. So whilst I want Uniuted to do well, I can at least respect how much this must mean to fans of clubs who have suffered a lot more than us over the years.

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