Berbatov’s treble helps Man United rout Wigan 5-0

Dimitar Berbatov scored a hat trick as Manchester United muscled

its way level with Manchester City at the top of the Premier League

with a 5-0 rout of Wigan on Monday.

City still holds the advantage on goal difference, but that lead

was cut to five by United’s second successive five-goal triumph and

its neighbor’s 0-0 draw at West Bromwich Albion.

Already leading through Park Ji-sung’s early goal, United took

maximum advantage of Wigan’s Conor Sammon being sent off for

fouling Michael Carrick.

On his first league start in three months, Berbatov doubled

United’s lead before halftime, then scored twice more after the

break – either side of Antonio Valencia’s goal.

Berbatov had Wayne Rooney to thank for his hat trick after the

second-half substitute stepped aside to let him take a 78th-minute

penalty following Antolin Alcaraz’s foul on Park, which seemed to

take place outside the box.

”It was the right game for Dimitar,” United manager Alex

Ferguson said. ”I needed his height in terms of set piece play

against us and he weighed in with a hat trick.

”We are really pleased for him. It helps his confidence. He has

not had the best start to the season in terms of selection because

of the options I have, with (Danny) Welbeck, Rooney and (Javier)

Hernandez.”

But the victory came at a cost with defender Jonny Evans

expected to be out of action for two weeks after he was forced off

with a calf injury.

Evans was United’s only fit central defender heading into the

game and failed to reappear for the second half.

”He has a calf injury and will be out for two weeks,” United

manager Alex Ferguson said. ”We have had a nightmare the last few

days. Phil Jones and Chris Smalling have both been ill. Rio

Ferdinand called off yesterday with a back injury and Jonny Evans

has come off at halftime. It does put you under pressure.”

Thankfully the injuries came against a Wigan side that had not

managed so much as a draw in 13 previous meetings with United.

The opener came after Patrice Evra slalomed his way into the

Wigan box, then picked out Park with a neat cutback.

The South Korean had enough space to pick his spot, into the top

right corner, well out of Ali Al Habsi’s reach.

United continued to create chances at regular intervals, with

Nani, Berbatov and Darron Gibson all trying their luck.

Sammon wasted Wigan’s best chance, turning onto David Jones’

pass but drilling a shot straight at goalkeeper Anders

Lindegaard.

The Irishman’s day quickly got much worse, and any chance Wigan

had disappeared with his red card.

Sammon’s arm ended up in Carrick’s face, although appeared he

was attempting to use it as a barrier to shield a bouncing ball

from his opponent. Even Ferguson felt it was ”harsh.”

”The red card is a shocking decision,” Wigan manager Roberto

Martinez added. ”There was a little bit of a fight, as there was

every time the two players went for the ball. None of them should

have been a red card. None of them were malicious. There was no

intent.

”If you want to show a red card using those standards, do it,

then you will end up with six men each. Anyone who has been on a

football pitch knows that incident was a normal action.”

United quickly exploited the situation.

Gibson delivered a teasing cross from the right flank, which

ended up with Berbatov. Making only his second Premier League start

of the season, United’s record signing took some time to get the

ball under control.

However, he had the strength to hold off Antolin Alcaraz and

drilled his shot past Al Habsi.

The goals continued to flow after the break.

Valencia was having a quietly effective game and his prodded

pass left Berbatov with enough space and time to smash his shot

beyond Al Habsi.

Having fallen so far behind Manchester City in the goal

difference stakes, United sensed it was time to start making up

some ground.

Valencia drilled his first Premier League goal of the season

into the bottom left corner to make it 4-0.

Then, after Park was chopped down in the box by Alcaraz, Rooney

let Berbatov finish off his hat trick.