Belfast Telegraph

Berbatov double sees Manchester United floor gritty Blackpool

Blackpool 2 Manchester Utd 3: Blackpool’s Tangerine dream was destroyed by one of those famous Manchester United comebacks as Sir Alex Ferguson's men roared back from two goals down to surge five points clear at the top of the Premier League.

At half-time, on top and two goals up, it appeared Blackpool would end United's unbeaten record and achieve a result that would go down in the history books alongside the ‘Matthews Final' in 1953.

But those goals from Red Devils old-boy Craig Cathcart, the Northern Ireland youngster, and DJ Campbell were insufficient to resist United, who were galvanised by subs Ryan Giggs and Javier Hernandez.

The Mexican struck the all-important equaliser but once again it was Dimitar Berbatov who did the damage for the rampant Red Devils, tapping home his side's first 19 minutes from time before driving home his 20th goal of the season — and his fifth in four days.

The only two meetings between the pair since the day four decades ago when Jimmy Armfield retired came in the old Second Division, a time United would prefer not to be reminded of.

They will not want reminding of their first-half performance either. Having muscled themselves into such a positive position, Ferguson's players knew victory in their game in hand would send them into a clear lead at the top of the table and bring that coveted record 19th championship within tantalising reach.

In his own chirpy way, Ian Holloway had done his best to play down expectations, claiming he would be happy if his side were not two goals down after 10 minutes and presenting Ferguson with his customary bottle of wine before the game.

Once the whistle went though, United were shaken out of their stride by the hosts, whose enthusiasm knows no bounds and for whom Charlie Adam, putting his transfer request and interest from Liverpool to the back of his mind, was outstanding.

It was Adam's accidental clash with Patrice Evra that forced the Frenchman off the field and meant he was out of position when he returned, as the Blackpool skipper swung in his first fateful corner.

Still, there was no excuse for United's total failure to track Cathcart's run.

Tipped for big things by the Old Trafford hierarchy until injury intervened, Cathcart rose unchallenged and powered a header past a motionless Edwin van der Sar.

Blackpool's second goal arrived when Adam sent a corner into roughly the same place. This time Darron Gibson got his head to it but only succeeded in turning it to Campbell, who bundled home at the far post.

If Luke Varney had been granted the penalty he was convinced should have been awarded when Rafael sent him tumbling, Blackpool would almost certainly have secured a better result.

As it was, United took inspiration from Hernandez's introduction for an out-of-sorts Wayne Rooney.

Cathcart made a great clearance from a Hernandez effort.

United were on a roll though, and when Darren Fletcher crossed a couple of minutes later, Berbatov was on hand to tap United back into the contest.

Within two minutes, they had bagged another as Giggs' magnificent chip sent Hernandez streaking through to finish with calm assurance.

United were not finished. Even the departure of Rafael on a stretcher that required 10 minutes injury time failed to halt their momentum.

And when Scholes sprayed a superb pass to Berbatov, the Bulgarian blasted home to seal the win.

Belfast Telegraph

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