A cakewalk, a canter, call it what you will: United, inspired by a sublime Dimitar Berbatov performance, tore Blackburn apart at Old Trafford on Saturday.
The Bulgarian netted an incredible five times as the Reds smashed seven goals past Sam Allardyce’s men to surge to the top of the Barclays Premier League.
It was the sort of one-sided performance fans had expected last weekend when Wigan Athletic were reduced to nine men. Instead, it was a full complement of Blackburn players that were on the receiving end of the Reds’ best performance of the season, and United’s biggest win since AS Roma were beaten by the same scoreline in April 2007.
Sir Alex made six changes, including his entire back four, to the side that won in Glasgow on Wednesday night, with Rafael, Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra all returning and Anderson and Ji-sung Park handed starts in midfield.
Wayne Rooney and Berbatov kept their spots up front and the pair took little more than a minute to combine for the Reds’ first goal. Rooney outjumped his marker at the near post to meet Nani’s cross and his glancing header fell to Berbatov, who volleyed home a simple finish from six yards.
It was the perfect start for Sir Alex’s men and, in particular, Berbatov, who’d previously not found the net since scoring a sensational hat-trick against Liverpool in September. Four days earlier, Sir Alex had predicted the Bulgarian would benefit more than most from Rooney’s return; the early evidence at Old Trafford reinforced that belief.
The pair linked well all afternoon, swapping passes in tight spaces and making unselfish runs off the ball to open up space. At one point in the first half, a series of clever interchanges cut through Rovers’ defence with such ease that the action resembled a training ground stroll rather than a Barclays Premier League fixture.
Meanwhile, Blackburn struggled to assert themselves on the game. Rafael’s close attentions frustrated former Liverpool forward El-Hadji Diouf, while lone frontman Jason Roberts was starved of service from midfield.
Nani tested visiting goalkeeper Paul Robinson at his near post before Christopher Samba almost put through his own net and Berbatov headed wide from a corner.
United were knocking on the door and a second goal duly arrived on 23 minutes. Park carried the ball forward from the inside left channel and fed Rooney on the edge of the area. The South Korean continued his run, Rooney returned the pass and Park, now clean through and with only Robinson to beat, dinked the ball over the Rovers goalkeeper. It was simple, beautiful and devastatingly effective.
Clearly shell-shocked by United’s storming start, Blackburn then hit the self-destruct button and gifted United a third goal on 27 minutes. Full-back Pascal Chimbonda didn’t look before playing the ball back to goalkeeper Robinson and instead passed the ball straight to Berbatov, who, loitering in the Rovers penalty area, blasted the ball into the net.
Vidic then missed a simple chance to add a fourth, while Nani fired over the bar from distance and Berbatov was denied a penalty just before half-time.
Pity any spectators who returned to their seat late for the second half, for within three minutes of the restart the Reds had scored twice more. Berbatov wrapped up his hat-trick by sidefooting the ball home from 12 yards to complete a sumptuous move he’d started himself deep inside United’s half.
Nani, also involved heavily in Berbatov’s third, then made it 5-0 on 48 minutes when he twisted and turned inside the area before shooting into the far corner. Blackburn’s players looked demoralised, but the Reds weren’t done yet. Berbatov grabbed his fourth on 62 minutes when a loose ball fell to his feet seven yards from goal and then, incredibly, a fifth after his attempted cross came back off Ryan Nelsen to present him with a simple tap-in.
Substitute Gabriel Obertan came close to further embarrassing the visitors before Samba reduced the margin to a slightly more respectable six when he headed home with seven minutes to play. It robbed the Reds of a clean sheet but, come the final whistle, nothing could wipe the smile off Dimitar Berbatov’s face. This was his day.
what a great-great game.. speechless.. article from Man Utd Official Website.