Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson praised his players after they regained their place at the top of the Barclays Premier League.
Wayne Rooney’s 23rd goal of the season, equalling a career best, broke Portsmouth’s resistance in the Barclays Premier League match at Old Trafford.
The breakthrough came in the 40th minute and gave United the impetus they needed, although luck was on their side.
Nani’s effort on the stroke of half-time took two deflections and Michael Carrick also got an assist off Portsmouth’s Richard Hughes.
It was tough luck on the crisis club – but things only got worse as the game progressed.
Dimitar Berbatov extended United’s lead with a clever finish and Marc Wilson rounded things off with an unfortunate own goal to give United a comfortable 5-0 victory.
Ferguson said: “We had a lot of pressure and possession of the ball but we were patient enough.
“That’s important when teams come and sit in the way they did here today. Portsmouth were there to make it difficult but we got the goal just before half-time.
“We were a bit fortunate with the second one. Nani beat his man and was trying to play a cross across the box.
“It got a deflection and went past James and into the net. It was fortunate but nonetheless you have to take them. That opened the game for us in the second half.
“We went looking for goals and managed to get three more, the one from Berbatov was brilliant.”
Rooney has now scored seven goals in four games after sending a header beyond David James and was presented with the Barclays Premier League Player of the Month award before kick-off.
With Aston Villa next up on Wednesday, Ferguson said: “He is in great form.
“It was a great opportunity for us to give him a rest. We had fresh players to come on like Mame Diouf and Michael Owen.”
Chelsea could go back to the top tomorrow when they face Arsenal but Ferguson added: “I don’t know if I’ll watch it or not because I am going up to Glasgow - but I’ll be thinking about it.”