A drubbing at the hands of defending champions Manchester United was probably not the start new Portsmouth coach Avram Grant had wanted for his team at Fratton Park.
|Wayne Rooney, centre, gives Avram Grant a special welcome [GALLO/GETTY]
Wayne Rooney fired home a two-penalty hat-trick as United won 4-1 at Portsmouth to trim Chelsea's English Premier League lead to two points.
Avram Grant took charge of Portsmouth for the first time after being appointed manager following Paul Hart's midweek dismissal.
But Grant - whose first and last matches as Chelsea manager were losses to United - once again had the misfortune to face the 18-time English champions after 18 months away from management.
Ryan Giggs also struck for the champions who now have 31 points from 14 games, two behind Chelsea who play at third-placed Arsenal (25 points) on Sunday.
Manchester City remain sixth on 22 points after they were held 1-1 at home by struggling Hull City to record a Premier League record seventh successive draw.
Tottenham moved up to third after drawing 1-1 with Aston Villa, West Ham United beat Burnley 5-3 while Wigan Athletic bounced back from last week's 9-1 hammering by Spurs by beating Sunderland 1-0.
Rooney will make the front page with his hat-trick but the England striker, along with several of his United team mates, had a fairly low-key game.
Portsmouth, who have beaten United and drawn with them at home in the last two seasons as well as knocking them out of the FA Cup at Old Trafford last year, were the better team for much of the first half in their first game.
However, they paid for missing several good chances when United went ahead with a Rooney penalty after 25 minutes after he had been brought down by Michael Brown.
The referee evened things up seven minutes later with another hotly debated penalty award when he decided that Frederic Piquionne had had his shirt pulled and Kevin Prince Boateng scored it.
United looked far livelier after the break and neat work by Giggs, who turns 36 on Sunday, set up Rooney to fire home his second.
The third penalty of the match was awarded for a foul on Giggs in the 54th minute and Rooney duly converted for his hat-trick before Giggs rounded things off with a late free kick to register his 100th Premier League goal.
"It was a strange game because if you analyse it you can say it was a good game for us. We created a lot of chances and conceded soft goals," Grant told Sky Sports.
|Frustration for Man City as they hit their seventh successive draw [GALLO/GETTY]
United's ability to win comfortably without hitting top form is in marked contrast with cross-town rivals City, whose top-four aspirations recede with every passing stalemate.
Not even the return of Brazil forward Robinho after three months on the sidelines could return Mark Hughes' side to winning ways.
They went ahead with a deflected long-range shot by Shaun Wright-Phillips at the end of the first half but Hull battled throughout and grabbed a point with a Jimmy Bullard penalty eight minutes from time 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,'' 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 having put nine goals past Wigan on Sunday, Tottenham only found the net once at Villa Park.
Defender Michael Dawson volleyed in the visitors' equaliser in the 77th minute.
Gabriel Agbonlahor scored his eighth of the season for Villa in an early goalmouth scramble after Carlos Cuellar's header had been blocked on the line.
West Ham, who had managed only one home win before Saturday, were grateful to be playing a Burnley side who lost five and drawn one of their six away games.
The Londoners went ahead through Jack Collison, added a second through Junior Stanislas and were 3-0 up at half-time with a Carlton Cole penalty.
Guillermo Franco and a Luis Jimenez penalty had the home fans singing, before two goals for Steven Fletcher and one for Chris Eagles brought some respectability to the score line.