MANCHESTER UTD (3) vs LIVERPOOL (2)
DIMITAR BERBATOV reflected last night on his “best day” in a Manchester United shirt after scoring the club’s first hat-trick against Liverpool for 64 years.
The Bulgarian striker has been much maligned since his move from Tottenham two years ago, but stole the plaudits with a stunning individual display to put strike partner Wayne Rooney in the shade.
Berbatov headed United into a 42nd minute lead before doubling the advantage with an audacious overhead kick off the underside of the crossbar.
But just like they did at Everton last week, United threw away a two-goal lead with Reds captain Steven Gerrard netting twice in six minutes – first from the penalty spot, then from a 20-yard free-kick.
But the stage was set for Berbatov to complete his first United treble with a towering header six minutes from time – the perfect tonic for a quiet night in with the family.
“It was probably my best day in a United shirt,” Berbatov admitted. “Obviously I am happy. I am going home with a smile on my face. But I am nothing special. I am going home to play with my kids.”
Boss Sir Alex Ferguson joined in the praise of his seven-goal striker, adding: “Someone told me it was the first hat-trick in over 60 years, which tells you something about the achievement. I am very pleased with him. His form has been excellent.
“You do not see many overhead kicks like that coming off. It was a fantastic strike that hit the underside of the bar.”
Ferguson, though, couldn’t resist a parting shot at Reds counterpart Roy Hodgson, insisting defeat was “catastrophic” for the Anfield club.
Naturally, Hodgson dismissed the claim, but admits a challenge for the league title is unlikely – even with the season just five games old.
“To use words like catastrophe is a bit strong unless you are talking about winning the league,” the former Fulham boss said.
“Of course if Chelsea win today we will be a long way behind them early doors – I suppose you could use the word catastrophe for that. But at this early stage I can’t be making those judgements. Our aim is to get better, to get to the Champions League, and maybe that is where I have got to have my focus.”