Berbatov ends goal drought with 5 vs. Blackburn
Manchester United striker Dimitar Berbatov ended a 10-match goal drought in style Saturday, sending five past Blackburn in a 7-1 rout.
Having not scored since a hat trick in September, the Bulgaria striker became only the fourth player since the Premier League was formed in 1992 to score five goals in a game.
''I can't believe I scored five in a game but it happened,'' Berbatov said. ''I have scored that many before but it was a long time ago back home in Bulgaria. Today I did it in the Premier League.''
It was United's 29th straight game without a loss, a stretch dating back to April.
Berbatov opened the scoring for United after just 72 seconds and added another in the 27th minute before netting a second-half hat trick.
Nani and Park Ji-sung also found the net in United's biggest win since also beating AS Roma 7-1 in the Champions League in April 2007.
While the victory over Blackburn took United top of the standings, Chelsea can reclaim the lead by beating Newcastle on Sunday.
Berbatov's last goals came against Liverpool on Sept. 19. His first on Saturday came after poor Blackburn defending allowed Nani to cross from the left, and Wayne Rooney flicked the ball on with a header for Berbatov to convert from six yards.
Rooney was making just his second start since recovering from an ankle injury, and United manager Alex Ferguson said the England striker's partnership up front with Berbatov was key to the Bulgarian's five goals.
''He and Wayne were fantastic today,'' Ferguson said. ''They were a constant threat. Their movement, passing and one-twos. It was a top performance by both of them. They have an understanding from the previous two years. It is very pleasing to get that.''
Rooney also had a hand in the second goal, combining with Park in a delightful one-two before the South Korean international advanced to score from 12 yards in the 23rd.
Berbatov then capitalized on a dreadful back-pass from Pascal Chimbonda just five minutes later, scoring from 12 yards after the defender's blunder left him with only the goalkeeper to beat.
Berbatov was far from done, adding the third just two minutes after the break after Nani broke in from the side and pulled the ball back for the Bulgarian to convert from 12 yards.
Nani quickly made it 5-0 himself after a precise pass from Anderson allowed him to cut inside Chimbonda and change feet before scoring low into the far corner.
Then it was time for Berbatov again in the 62nd, who got his fourth in the 62nd after Park's shot was blocked by Christopher Samba. Anderson then set up Berbatov for his fifth in the 69th minute and the Bulgarian converted his own rebound after his initial shot was blocked by Ryan Nelsen.
Berbatov came close to claiming a Premier League record sixth goal in the final minute, when his close-range header drew a fine save from Paul Robinson who tipped the ball onto the Blackburn crossbar.
Blackburn's consolation goal came in the 84th when Samba rose to head in Josh Morris' cross from six yards.
Berbatov now has 11 league goals from 12 starts this season, and joined Andy Cole, Alan Shearer and Jermain Defoe as the only players to have scored five goals in a Premier League game.
''To stand next to people like Cole and Shearer is a great honor,'' Berbatov said. ''As a striker, people do tend only to look at the goals you score. I am more concerned with how I play but today was all about goals for me.''