Dimitar Berbatov’s rejuvenation continued as his brilliant hat-trick gave Manchester United a fully deserved 3-2 win against Liverpool at Old Trafford Sunday.
The Bulgarian striker scored either side of the interval — the second a stunning overhead kick — to put Sir Alex Ferguson’s side in complete control against a subdued Liverpool.
Liverpool were thrown a lifeline by United’s frailty in defence as Steven Gerrard scored twice in six minutes midway through the second half from the penalty spot and a 20-yard free-kick, both awarded for fouls on Fernando Torres, to put the Merseysiders in sight of an unlikely point.
Berbatov was determined to have the final say, however, and he scored his and United’s third with a towering header six minutes from time to seal the victory.
United were forced into a late change when Rio Ferdinand withdrew because of illness, while Liverpool were able to bring back Joe Cole after his three-game Premier League suspension.
Just as it looked like Liverpool might survive until the interval unscathed, they were architects of their own downfall as Berbatov took advantage of poor marking at a set piece to give United a 42nd minute lead.
Torres was the culprit, losing Berbatov in the battle to make contact with Ryan Giggs’ corner, the Bulgarian powering a header past Pepe Reina.
United, encouraged by the goal, pressed for another and Rooney was then narrowly off target from the edge of the area.
It was a brief reprieve as Berbatov scored a stunning second goal to extend United’s lead.
Nani’s cross was behind the striker, but he brought the ball under control and swept an overhead kick past Reina via the underside of the bar.
Liverpool looked on course for a long and painful afternoon at the hands of their fierce rivals, but they were given hope after 64 minutes when Jonny Evans fouled Torres in the area, allowing Gerrard to dispatch the penalty with ease.
And a remarkable turnaround was complete six minutes later when John O’Shea was booked for fouling Torres on the edge of the area.
Gerrard inflicted further punishment as he slipped the free-kick through a poorly assembled United wall and past Edwin van der Sar.
Berbatov had given a masterclass in the striker’s art, and fittingly he completed his treble when he headed United back in front with six minutes left, soaring above Jamie Carragher to glance O’Shea’s cross past Reina.
In another match, leaders Chelsea thumped Blackpool 4-0 at Stamford Bridge with Florent Malouda (2), Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou on target.—BBC Sport.