ON THIS DAY: Pompey heroes beat United in Cup thriller

On March 8, 2008, Pompey delivered one of the most memorable victories in their richest history.

Thursday, 8th March 2018, 11:45 am
Updated Thursday, 8th March 2018, 1:04 pm
Sulley Muntari nets from the penalty spot. Picture: Steve Reid

A decade on, we relive the magical win over Manchester United at Old Trafford which turned FA Cup dreams into reality.

Here is the match report from sports writer Jordan Cross, which was published that evening in the Sports Mail.

Harry Redknapp hailed his heroes after they delivered one of the greatest days in Pompey’s history.

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The teams walk out on to the pitch at Old Trafford. Picture: Steve Reid

Sulley Muntari scored the goal which sunk Premier League champions Manchester United in the FA Cup quarter-final at Old Trafford.

That ensured Redknapp’s battlers would be going to Wembley after making the last four of the famous old tournament.

It was a day all Pompey fans will forever cherish as they picked up their first win on United’s turf since 1957.

And it meant the Blues would walk out at the home of English football for the first time since 1939.

Sylvain Distin foils Michael Carrick. Picture: Steve Reid

Redknapp lauded every one of his men for delivering a result that will go down in Fratton folklore.

‘We have won it. It was a tough day and no-one would have given us a chance of picking up a result,’ said the Blues boss.

‘I asked the players to show why I am always talking up how good they are – and they did that.

‘We had to ride our luck as you have to when you come to Old Trafford. But we worked our socks off, too.

United keeper Tomasz Kuszczak brings down Milan Baros for the penalty. Picture: Steve Reid

‘I’ve had my good days and this has to be up there with the best of them. They are a fantastic team.

‘When their side was pinned up on the board before the game I was worried.

‘But we have given our fans a great day – and they will have another great day to look forward to when we go to Wembley.’

It was a positive enough start from the Blues with Lassana Diarra making some encouraging inroads into the home side’s territory.

Harry Redknapp hails the Pompey faithful. Picture: Steve Reid

His opening surge earned the Blues their first corner but it was confidently dealt with by the United defence.

Cristiano Ronaldo came in for some rough treatment from the visitors, with Diarra tackling the Portuguese midfielder and then Hermann Hreidarsson leaving him on the floor.

That gave United a sixth-minute free-kick which Paul Scholes headed wide from Nani’s delivery.

United had appeals for a penalty turned down after seven minutes when Ronaldo burst beyond Hreidarsson and was challenged by Sylvain Distin.

It looked like a strong shoulder from the Frenchman but it was enough to have Ferguson screaming on the edge of his technical area as referee Martin Atkinson waved play on.

Ferguson was still fuming as Joe Jordan berated Ronaldo for what he thought was a dive – leading to a tete-a-tete between the pair on the sidelines.

The teams walk out on to the pitch at Old Trafford. Picture: Steve Reid

The 3,500 travelling Pompey fans had that sinking feeling after nine minutes when United were awarded a free-kick 25 yards out following a foul from Diarra on Scholes.

The fear was it would be another blockbuster from Ronaldo but the Pompey wall did its job and blocked his drive.

Pompey’s first meaningful shot came from Niko Kranjcar after 16 minutes following another positive run but his 25-yard blast was gathered by Edwin van der Sar.

United had a glorious chance to snatch the lead after 19 minutes when Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez broke two-on-one against Sol Campbell.

Tevez put the England international clean through with his pass, he rounded David James but Campbell’s challenge saw the ball ricochet to the Argentine.

Tevez looked odds-on to score but his effort was cleared off the line by the covering Glen Johnson.

Rooney was the first United player in the book after 21 minutes for a foul on Kranjcar.

He followed Pompey’s Papa Bouba Diop, who had been cautioned for an earlier foul on Ronaldo.

Pompey knew they could not afford to give away free-kicks anywhere within range but Diarra’s foul on Tevez gave Ronaldo another opportunity to line up one of his howitzers.

Luckily for Pompey, the wall again did its job and blocked his effort.

United were in the ascendancy and pushing for the opener but Campbell got his body in the way of Scholes shot as he worked some space in the area.

It looked like Pompey’s best chance of a goal could come from a set-piece.

But Kranjcar had to do better than his wayward delivery following Brown’s foul on Hreidarsson.

Pompey were enjoying periods of possession and some enterprising play led to Muntari finding some space but his shot from distance was blocked by Hargreaves.

Diop was the second Pompey player in the book 11 minutes before the break after Nani went to ground a little too easily after his challenge.

There was one significant half-time change for United as reserve keeper Tomasz Kuszczak replaced van der Sar.

United started the second half the quicker, with Tevez burrowing away down the channel.

There were signs of frustration creeping into the home side, though, when Rio Ferdinand showed his anger after being penalised.

But generally it was the home side who were on the front foot, although Pompey were standing firm.

The expected change in attack came from the visitors after 53 minutes when Milan Baros replaced Kanu.

Pompey breathed a sigh of relief five minutes later when United looked certain to open the scoring. Nani’s corner was met by Nemanja Vidic’s head which James did well to keep out.

The danger was not averted, though, with the ball loose in the box sparking a melee.

Ronaldo eventually worked some space but his shot flew narrowly wide.

Pompey fans were on their feet after 62 minutes when Baros got in behind the United defence.

It looked like a golden chance was going to fall his way but referee Atkinson brought play back for a foul by the Czech striker on Hargreaves.

Inevitably, United were starting to find spaces in the Pompey rearguard as a result of their pressure.

Ronaldo looked as if he was going to beat James as space opened up for him inside the box but the Portuguese superstar rolled his shot wide.

United were really turning up the heat now, with Ronaldo’s ball freeing Evra but his cutback was behind the onrushing United players.

Ferguson made a double change with 22 minutes remaining as the Scot threw on Anderson and Michael Carrick in place of Rooney and Tevez.

Some desperate defending from Distin stopped a certain goal from Carrick two minutes later after he was played in by Ronaldo’s backheel.

It was incessant United pressure now and Pompey had to rely on James to make a world-class stop and push Evra’s 25-yard drive on to the post.

A moment of sheer drama turned the game on its head with 14 minutes remaining.

Kranjcar broke clear from a ball over the top and played Baros free with a perfectly-timed pass.

The Croat kept his composure and rounded Kuszczak but was hauled to the ground by the Polish keeper.

Referee Atkinson had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and handing the United man a straight red card for a professional foul.

With no keeper on the bench, United were forced to put Ferdinand between the sticks.

The tension had reached fever pitch but Muntari was the coolest man at Old Trafford as he stepped up and rifled a low drive to Ferdinand’s left.

That ensured the game’s finale would be one of the most tense periods in Pompey’s recent history.

Nails were being bitten in the away section and blood pressure was rising but Pompey held firm.

Referee Atkinson found four minutes of stoppage-time. But Pompey were playing down the clock well.

And in the 95th minute, Atkinson blew the final whistle to ensure a famous win for Redknapp’s battlers.

Sylvain Distin foils Michael Carrick. Picture: Steve Reid
United keeper Tomasz Kuszczak brings down Milan Baros for the penalty. Picture: Steve Reid
Harry Redknapp hails the Pompey faithful. Picture: Steve Reid