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Football: ANOTHER OFF DAY, FERGIE; BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE PORTSMOUTH 1 MAN UTD 1 Tevez goes from one row to another Red card for Ronaldo as United fail to fire again.


IT IS a good job Carlos Tevez is used to controversy. The Argentine was in the thick of it from the day he joined West Ham until the day he left.

And last night, on his debut for Manchester United, he found himself with a front-row seat at another melodrama.

Tevez must have thought he had left this kind of fuss behind him when he turned his back on the soap opera that became his life in the East End.

But he was a few yards away in a crowded penalty area at Fratton Park last night when Cristiano Ronaldo got his marching orders for head-butting Richard Hughes. Tevez was a bystander this time but somehow seems like the kind of guy trouble follows faithfully from club to club.

United were a team of all the talents before he arrived but even on the evidence of his muted display last night, it is already clear they will be an even more incendiary mix going forward this season.

Tevez was not outstanding in this 1-1 draw. In fact, he faded the longer it went on and the more Pompey pressed for a winner. But he still set up a goal for Paul Scholes, whistled an instinctive volley over the bar and prodded a rebound just wide from three yards out.

Things are never quiet at United anyway, Ronaldo proved that last night. But they just got a whole lot noisier with the arrival of Tevez.

United, of course, were without Wayne Rooney. Even so, Sir Alex Ferguson's side was packed with attacking flair and Tevez lined up in the middle of a three man front line flanked by Ryan Giggs and Ronaldo. After a quiet start, the first chance of the game fell to United after 15 minutes. They took it.

Nani played a ball to Tevez, who was standing with his back to goal on the edge of the Portsmouth box.

He shielded it expertly, held off his marker and laid off a square pass to Scholes who rifled an unstoppable shot past David James from 20 yards.

It was an immediate reminder of the class of Tevez and the deadliness of Scholes, whose return to form and fitness last season was seen by many as the key to United's title triumph.

Portsmouth tried to find a way back into the game but with new signing David Nugent only sporadically supported in attack by John Utaka, it was a forlorn task.

Nugent was anonymous, Benjani, out on the right, looked out of sorts and Pompey spent much of the first half chasing the shadows of United's neat, assured passing.

The expectations of the home fans had been raised by last season's 2-1 win over United here and they soon began to grow restive. Pompey nearly went further behind 10 minutes before half-time when James failed to hold a shot from Ronaldo.

Tevez muscled his way in front of two defenders to pounce on the rebound but in the process of taking the ball around James, he was forced wide and the ball was cleared.

Unable to keep possession, Portsmouth began to look uncertain at the back and when James came to meet a simple cross from Nani, it was headed away from him by Hermann Hreidarsson.

Boss Harry Redknapp made a change at half time when he brought on Matt Taylor for Pedro Mendes and gave Benjani a more central role.

The switch energised Portsmouth and even though Tevez nearly scored with an instinctive volley, a minute later Taylor produced the perfect cross for Benjani to head home.

Ronaldo forced a save from James before Nugent was denied by Patrice Evra's last-ditch tackle and then fell flat on his face after being played in.

Sulley Muntari was sent off for two bookable offences after 81 minutes.

Ronaldo upstaged him soon after.

PORTSMOUTH: James 7, Cranie 6 (Traore 46, 6), Pamarot 6 (Hughes 64, 5), Distin 6, Hreidarsson 7, Benjani 7, Mendes 6 (Taylor 46, 7), Davis 6, Muntari 5, Utaka 6, Nugent 6.

MAN UNITED: Van Der Sar 7, Brown 6 (Eagles 88), Ferdinand 7, Vidic 7, Evra 6, Carrick 7, Scholes 7, Nani 5, Ronaldo 6, Tevez 7, Giggs 7 (O'Shea 81).


POMP UP THE VOLUME: Benjani fires home a bullet header in level after Scholes opened the scoring; AGONY: Tevez; CARD DAY'S NIGHT: Ronaldo is sent off by Steve Bennett; AND YOU THOUGHT BUTT QUIT OLD TRAFFORD! HEAD CASE: Cristiano Ronaldo clashes with Richard Hughes under the nose of referee Steve Bennett and Hughes licks his wounds (above)
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 16, 2007
Previous Article:Football: City drought of this world; BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE MANCHESTER CITY 1 DERBY 0.

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