From The Archives: Berba’s Greatest Game

Dimitar Berbatov’s best match for United was the hatrick he scored in a 3-2 win over Liverpool at Old Trafford. The goal he scored with the overhead kick would have been Goal of the Season had it not been Wayne Rooney’s overhead against Manchester City. It was a match that completed Berba’s rejuvenation at Old Trafford. Heavily criticised for his performances since a record breaking move to United from Tottenham.

Going into the match, United lost Rio Ferdinand to an injury and the defecse up until then was not up to the standard of past United sides. Ferguson would have been thankful to have the likes of Berbatov and others in his squad who could almost single-handedly win a game. That was exactly what Berbatov did on the night. All eyes were on Rooney considering the recent speculation surrounding his future but it was the dynamic Dimitar Berbatov that went home with all the plaudits.

Liverpool crawled back from a 2-0 deficit thanks largely to immature fouls from United, both on Fernando Torres. The resulting free-kick and penalty in the space of 6 minutes gave Liverpool the hope of escaping with the unlikeliest of point.

But it was hatrick hero Berbatov who had the final say with a header from a John O’Shea cross six minutes from time. It was a towering header and the keeper was left with no chance. The first goal of the trio Berbatov scored was another header. Torres lost the Bulgarian in a corner and his powerful header couldn’t be stopped by Pepe Reina.

Both goals were superb but they were largely overpowered by the moment of sheer brilliance Dimitar produced to score the second. A stunning overhead kick that is still talked about with great pride by the United following. The technique and audacity to first bring Nani’s cross under-control with his back to goal and then striking the ball like he did was textbook. His work ethic on the day was simply too much for Liverpool’s defence.

It was a superb attacking performance by United. They attackers seemed to wipe out the defensive lapses and mistakes that United had become to be associated with the early part of that campaign.

Dimitar Berbatov broke the shackles in this match and went on to finish the campaign as Premier League top scorer. He truly looked worth every penny of the transfer fee United paid Daniel Levy and Tottenham. The match was one of the best of the campaign in which United finally surpassed Liverpool’s tally of 18 League titles.