Belfast Telegraph

Blues undone by Berbatov hat-trick

Dimitar Berbatov bagged his third hat-trick of the season as Manchester United put Birmingham to the sword with a 5-0 victory at Old Trafford.

Berbatov set United on their way by opening the scoring after just two minutes and the Bulgarian added another before the break, then completed his hat-trick in the second-half, with Ryan Giggs and Nani also on target for the Premier League leaders.

The prolific Bulgarian now has 18 goals this season and yet another matchball to go alongside those he collected against Liverpool and Blackburn earlier in the campaign.

More importantly for Sir Alex Ferguson, his side tightened their grip on top spot in the table, with Ryan Giggs and Nani also finding the net as the leaders extended their unbeaten run this season to 22 games ahead of Tuesday's trip to Blackpool.

The scoring started early, with less than two minutes on the clock when Giggs chipped a corner to the near post. John O'Shea, making his first appearance since the end of November, stooped to flick on and Berbatov, two yards out, could not miss.

Berbatov was denied a second almost immediately as he strode on to Wayne Rooney's pass and fired a fierce shot at the Birmingham goal that former Red Devil Ben Foster kept out with his feet.

The second was not far away, though, and it came just after half-an-hour's play. Driving through the heart of Birmingham's defence, Rooney rolled a precise pass to his left, offering Berbatov the space to step inside Roger Johnson and beat Foster low at his near post.

The former Tottenham striker was involved in the third too, retrieving possession outside the Birmingham box despite slipping to the ground. The ball found Rooney, who played in Giggs for a forceful far-post finish.

The chances came thick and fast in the second half as well, though there were just two more goals for Birmingham fans to cope with.

Berbatov's hat-trick came up with a straightforward close-range strike that was teed up by the aware Giggs, and Nani joined him on the scoresheet 13 minutes from time when he cut in from the right and drove past Foster.


From Belfast Telegraph