Football

Five-star Berbatov carries United top

Dimitar Berbatov scored five as Manchester United hammered Blackburn Rovers 7-1 to go top of the Premier League table on a Saturday that saw 36 goals — more than any other in Premier League history.

Arsenal had earlier claimed top spot temporarily with a 4-2 win over Aston Villa, while Manchester City were denied a win by a last-minute equaliser at Stoke City.

Berbatov had United ahead inside two minutes, but it was a controversial strike, Wayne Rooney flicking on Nani’s cross as goalkeeper Paul Robinson was still struggling back after a heavy collision with Anderson.

There was no doubt about the second, though, Park Ji-Sung playing a one-two with Rooney and finishing confidently after 23 minutes. Two minutes later Berbatov capitalised on a weak Pascal Chimbonda backpass to make it three. He completed his hat-trick — his first goals since his hat-trick against Liverpool — with a superb strike after a long-range one-two with Nani.

Nani soon added the fifth, before Berbatov finished off after a Park effort had been saved, and then slotted in a fifth after an attempted pass to Rooney had been blocked. Chris Samba got the late Blackburn goal.

Arsenal are second after a nervy 4-2 victory over Aston Villa.

Goals from Andrei Arshavin and Samir Nasri had them 2-0 up by half-time, but Ciaran Clark pulled one back soon after half-time. Marouane Chamakh made it 3-1, but a Clark header gave Villa hope again before Jack Wilshere sealed the game in injury time with his first goal for the club.

“It’s a good weekend because we can relax now a bit and look at the other results,” said Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. “You can only do your job and that’s what we did today.

“It was a strong performance against a Villa side that’s dangerous.” Manchester City are five points off the top after a 1-1 draw at Stoke City. Micah Richards had put City ahead after 81 minutes, but Matt Etherington levelled in injury-time.

West Ham United came out on top in the big game at the bottom, beating Wigan Athletic 3-1. Valon Behrami bundled in a Frederic Piquionne header to give West Ham the lead 11 minutes before half-time, and Victor Obinna crashed a second 11 minutes into the second-half.

Rob Green saved a Mauro Boselli penalty to head off a possible Wigan fightback, before Scott Parker sealed the game with a late third. Bolton Wanderers came from 2-0 down to draw at home to Blackpool.

Ian Evatt headed in a 28th-minute corner to put the away side ahead and Luke Varney added a second 12 minutes after the break. Martin Petrov began the Bolton fightback, and Mark Davies completed a brilliant move to level late on.

West Bromwich Albion ended a run of five games without a win by beating Everton 4-1 at Goodison Park.

Paul Scharner headed in a Chris Brunt corner to give West Bromwich Albion a 16th-minute lead, and Brunt curled in a brilliant free-kick 10 minutes later.

Tim Cahill pulled one back with a header three minutes before half-time, but Everton’s hopes took a severe hit as Mikel Arteta was sent off for a stamp after 57 minutes. A goal from Stephen Tchoyi and an own-goal from Sylvain Distin, completed the win, before Youssuf Mulumbu was sent off in the dying seconds.

Wolverhampton Wanderers struck two late goals to beat Sunderland 3-2 at Molineux. Kevin Foley followed in after Craig Gordon had saved from Matt Jarvis to give Wolves a 50th-minute, but Darren Bent levelled 17 minutes later.

Danny Welbeck then put the away side ahead, but Steven Hunt levelled on 81 minutes and Sylvain Ebanks-Blake gave Wolves the win with three minutes remaining. Clint Dempsey got the equaliser as Fulham drew 1-1 against Birmingham City, after Alex Hleb had laid on the opener for Sebastian Larsson after 20 minutes.

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Printable version | Jul 10, 2020 12:25:17 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/football/Five-star-Berbatov-carries-United-top/article15718478.ece

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