Berbatov runs Rovers ragged
Rooney also on target for Red Devils
By Chris Burton. Last Updated: 31/10/09 11:04pm
Berbatov: Star of the show
Dimitar Berbatov put in an impressive shift for Manchester United on Saturday as he helped to inspire a 2-0 win over Blackburn.
The victory, which also saw Wayne Rooney find the target late on, keeps Sir Alex Ferguson's men on the coattails of Premier League leaders Chelsea and represents the perfect response to last weekend's setback at Liverpool.
Berbatov monopolised the better of the first-half chances, and the Bulgarian could have had a hat-trick before the interval.
He should have done better with a planted header from six yards, which found its way over the top, while the languid frontman went on to force Paul Robinson into an acrobatic stop moments later.
Berbatov thought he had forced the breakthrough five minutes before the interval following a flowing move involving Nani and Rooney, but his simple effort was ruled out for offside, and there was still time for him to lash a wild shot high into the stands when well placed.
His persistence finally paid off, though, 10 minutes into the second half when he illuminated Old Trafford with a characteristic moment of magic.
Collecting a cross-shot from Patrice Evra, in one swift movement he nudged the ball into the air before sending a twisting volley past a rooted Robinson.
Gabriel Obertan, on his Premier League debut, later spurned a glorious opportunity to add a second for the Red Devils before Rooney wrapped things up on 87 minutes when he drilled low into the bottom corner.
Nikola Kalinic appeared to have offered Rovers a lifeline in stoppage time, but his celebrations were cut short by an assistant referee's flag.
United must have wondered how they were still on level terms at half-time given the amount of possession they enjoyed.
As early as the third minute Nani sent a 20-yard shot whistling past the post following a marvellous crossfield pass from Wes Brown.
A mistake by Blackburn defender Chris Samba let in Antonio Valencia 10 minutes later but he failed to take advantage and scuffed a shot off target.
It was a clear opportunity and Blackburn looked nervous at the back at this stage following the mauling by Chelsea last weekend and nine straight defeats on the road.
However, the visitors responded in the 21st minute and El-Hadji Diouf got into a good position, only for John O'Shea to make a crucial interception.
United stepped up the pressure and Pascal Chimbonda did well to block a shot from Berbatov in the 29th minute after Evra played the ball in.
A minute later Berbatov nearly made the breakthrough with a downward header following a cross from Valencia.
However, goalkeeper Robinson reacted superbly and turned the Bulgarian's effort over the bar.
Blackburn responded and Samba peeled away from his marker as David Dunn delivered the corner, only to head wide of the target.
It was brief respite for the visitors as Berbatov was again denied by Robinson in the 34th minute after being set up by Rooney.
This was a difficult spell for Blackburn and Berbatov found the net after Rooney had squared the ball to him in the 40th minute, only to be ruled offside.
Then Nani misdirected his header from inside the area following a corner from Valencia as Blackburn held out until half-time.
United pushed forward in the 53rd minute after Nani won the ball off Gael Givet.
The midfielder attempted to release Rooney but the pass was hopelessly misplaced and the move broke down.
Anderson then picked out Evra, who had raced into the area, only for his touch to let him down and Robinson was able to collect.
United made the breakthrough when Berbatov showed good skill when he got on the end of a cross from Evra.
He got the better of Ryan Nelsen, twisting and turning before sending a shot beyond Robinson for his fourth goal of the season.
United boss Ferguson decided to make a change after 64 minutes, bringing on Obertan for the ineffective Nani.
Obertan made a delayed debut in the Carling Cup victory against Barnsley in midweek after recovering a back injury.
He almost made a dream start in the 67th minute following a defence-splitting pass by Anderson.
Former Bordeaux winger Obertan raced away only to send a weak shot into the arms of a grateful Robinson.
Berbatov came off in the 79th minute and replaced by Michael Owen, who scored in the Carling Cup victory against Barnsley.
United should have extended their lead in the 83rd minute but Obertan again fluffed his lines. Clear in front of goal as Valencia played the ball into his path, he snatched at the chance and sent his effort wide.
Obertan then had a hand in United's second goal in the 88th minute when he found Anderson on the left flank.
The Brazilian sent a good ball into the area and Rooney was the first to react with a sweet finish.
Substitute Nikola Kalinic found the net for Blackburn in stoppage time but his effort was ruled offside before Owen sent a shot narrowly wide.
|Manchester United||Team Statistics||Blackburn Rovers|
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|6||Shots on Target||1|
|13||Shots off Target||1|
Barclays Premier League
Sat 31st Oct
Arsenal3 - 0Tottenham
Portsmouth4 - 0Wigan
Bolton0 - 4Chelsea
Sunderland2 - 2West Ham
Fulham3 - 1Liverpool
Everton1 - 1A Villa
Stoke City2 - 2Wolves
Burnley2 - 0Hull City
Man Utd2 - 0Blackburn
Barclays Premier League
|13||Queens Park Rangers||0||0|
|19||West Bromwich Albion||0||0|
|20||West Ham United||0||0|