Berbatov back with famous five

Manchester United 7 Blackburn Rovers 1: Bulgarian striker ends debate over his future in spectacular fashion to send United top at Rovers' expense

If the future of Dimitar Berbatov at Old Trafford has been a matter for some conjecture in recent times, the Bulgarian's response to such speculation amounts to one of the most astonishing statements in the history of the Premier League.

When the beleaguered Blackburn goalkeeper, Paul Robinson, tipped Berbatov's 89th-minute header on to his crossbar, he not only denied the United forward a double hat-trick but also a place in Premier League history as the first player to score six goals in a single game.

Berbatov had to be content with joining an illustrious list of five-goal performances which features Andy Cole, for United against Ipswich in 1995; Alan Shearer, for Newcastle versus Sheffield Wednesday four years later; and Jermain Defoe,for Tottenham against Wiganlast season.

If this is what Berbatov is like when mired in a "crisis," what could he and a United team now back into first place in the League table – at least until Chelsea's visit to Newcastle this afternoon – be like if he really finds his form?

"Today he was back to normal," said Sir Alex Ferguson of his forward. "It was a fantastic achievement. He could have had a sixth late on but Robinson made a very good save. He and [Wayne] Rooney were fantastic today. Their movement and passing and one-twos, it was a top performance. They have an understanding, anyway, from the previous two years, so it's pleasing to get that back. The goals are so important for our goal difference and I don't know where that places us but it helps us improve."

The manager has stood behind Berbatov, even when "resting" him on numerous occasions this season, partly because his own judgement is inexorably linked with the unpredictable forward, Ferguson having paid a club record £30 million for him. Atop the table and with Berbatov on top of the Premier League goalscorers' charts with 11 from 12 starts, Ferguson – not for the first time in a quarter-century at Old Trafford – has been vindicated.

"A little bit," said Berbatov when asked if he had been concerned at his failure to score since a hat-trick against Liverpool on 19 September. "When you are a striker people tend to only look at the goals you score. For me, it is more about how I play, the assistsI give, how I link with other players, but today I scored so I am very pleased. I've scored five before but it was a long time ago back home. To do it in the Premier League, when only four [sic] other players have done it, to stand next to Shearer, Andy Cole, is a great honour."

And on a day when United hardly needed their goalkeeper, they signed one. The Danish international AndersLindegaard joined from Norwegian side Aalesunds FK, although he will not be able to play until the transfer window opens in January.

The wheels were set in motion after all of 72 seconds when poor defending allowed Rooney to flick Nani's cross into the path of Berbatov, who scored from six yards.

Rooney then had a hand in the second, a superb one-two with Park Ji-sung, who continued his run before comfortably beating Robinson, while Berbatov had well and truly wrapped up the points by the interval, taking Pascal Chimbonda's inexplicably woeful back-pass and scoring from 12 yards in the 27th minute.

Less than two minutes into the second half Nani danced past Chimbonda to pull the ball back for Berbatov's hat-trick before Nani himself scored a deserved fifth after taking Anderson's pass in his stride and beating Chimbonda before scoring.

Just after the hour, Berbatov pounced after Park's shot was blocked by Christopher Samba and then completed the United scoring in the 70th minute when he chased another Anderson pass and scored after his shot had been blocked by Ryan Nelsen.

With United coasting, Samba headed in a Josh Morris cross for a late Blackburn consolation although manager Sam Allardyce took little comfort. "It won't be an easy one to forget," he said. "But its one we will have to try and put behind us."

Attendance: 74,850

Referee: Lee Probert

Man of the match: Berbatov

Match rating: 8/10

Five goals in Premier League

Andy Cole 4 March 1995 Manchester Utd 9 Ipswich Town 0

Alan Shearer 19 September 1999 Newcastle Utd 8 Sheffield Wed 0

Jermain Defoe 22 November 2009 Tottenham Hotspur 9 Wigan 1

Dimitar Berbatov 27 November 2010 Manchester Utd 7 Blackburn Rovers 1

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own