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Monday, Nov. 30, 2009

Rooney hits hat trick to help United blast Pompey

LONDON (AP) Wayne Rooney scored a hat trick and Ryan Giggs collected his 100th Premier League goal as Manchester United won 4-1 at bottom-place Portsmouth on Saturday.

News photo
United offensive: Manchester United's Wayne Rooney celebrates the Red Devils' 4-1 away victory against Portsmouth at Fratton Park on Saturday. Rooney had a hat trick in the win. AP PHOTO

Giggs reached the landmark a day before his 36th birthday to help the defending champions close the gap on Chelsea to two points ahead of the leaders' trip to Arsenal on Sunday.

"He's an exceptional player. A rarity. He will play for two years yet," said 67-year-old United manager Alex Ferguson said. "Happy Birthday. He's had it 36 times in his life, wait until he gets to 67. I think he'll be retired by then."

In the battle for the Champions League spots, Tottenham moved up to third after drawing 1-1 with Aston Villa, while Manchester City slumped to a seventh successive draw after being held 1-1 by Hull.

West Ham boosted its survival hopes by defeating Burnley 5-3, but Bolton remained in the relegation zone after drawing 1-1 at Fulham, while Wigan beat Sunderland 1-0 and Blackburn drew 0-0 with Stoke.

Avram Grant took charge of Portsmouth for the first time after being appointed manager following Paul Hart's dismissal. But Grant — whose first and last matches as Chelsea manager were losses to United — again had the misfortune to face the 18-time English champions after 18 months away from management.

Grant's team got off to the worst possible start when Rooney tumbled in the penalty area following a clumsy challenge by Michael Brown. But after Rooney converted from the penalty kick in the 25th minute, Kevin-Prince Boateng leveled from the spot at the other end after Nemanja Vidic fouled Frederic Piquionne.

Rooney restored United's lead three minutes into the second half when he latched onto Ryan Giggs' pass. The England forward grabbed a third minutes later when Piquionne was penalized for fouling Giggs and he slotted in the penalty kick.

And Giggs found time to score to leave Pompey rooted to the bottom of the standings.

"The football was good and the spirit but there are things we have to do better — first to take points," Grant said. "When we play against teams close to us we need to win them."

At Manchester City, not even the return of Brazil forward Robinho after three months on the sidelines could return the big-spending club to winning ways.

Shaun Wright-Phillips had put big-spending City ahead on the stroke of half time with a 25-meter strike, but Jimmy Bullard leveled in the closing minutes from the penalty spot after Joleon Lescott was adjudged to have handled.

"Of course, it is a disappointing run we're on because we're failing to see out victories when we have the lead," City manager Mark Hughes said. "We're trying to get something started here but at times we look exactly what we are, a side that has been thrown together very quickly."

After being humiliated 9-1 by Spurs, Wigan rebounded at home to Sunderland courtesy of Hugo Rodallega's sixth goal of the season.

Sunderland striker Darren Bent, who is black, later said his mother was on the receiving end of racist comments.

"So we get beat by Wigan and to make matters worse my mum gets racially abused by a SUNDERLAND fan," Bent wrote on Twitter. "I won't stand for that."

Fabiano saves point

MADRID (AP) Luis Fabiano's two second-half goals helped Sevilla rally for a 2-2 draw against Malaga, while Borja Valero's late penalty ensured Mallorca left Valencia with a 1-1 draw in the Spanish league on Saturday.

Fabiano, making up for two earlier misses, headed home Sevilla's first in the 58th minute before equalizing 15 minutes later, swiveling to fire a shot past goalkeeper Gustavo Munua.



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