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Premier League

  • 26 December 2011
  • • 15:00
  • • Old Trafford, Manchester
  • Referee: P. Dowd
  • • Attendance: 75183

Manchester United 5-0 Wigan: Dimitar Berbatov hat-trick downs visitors as champions romp to fifth successive Premier League victory

Manchester United 5-0 Wigan: Dimitar Berbatov hat-trick downs visitors as champions romp to fifth successive Premier League victory

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Visitors harshly done by with Conor Sammon's first-half red card but the Bulgarian's treble and goals from Park Ji-Sung and Antonio Valencia underlined the hosts superiority

Dimitar Berbatov's hat-trick for Manchester United helped crush a 10-man Wigan side 5-0 to record a fifth successive Premier League victory.

Park Ji-Sung grabbed an early opener after just seven minutes following a thrilling run by Patrice Evra, before Conor Sammon was sent off for the visitors, somewhat harshly, for an elbow on Michael Carrick towards the end of the first-half.

Berbatov immediately opened his account for the afternoon, before a fine turn from saw him notch the third in the second half and then Antonio Valencia buried a fantastic long-range strike on 75 minutes.

The Bulgarian striker then capped off his afternoon when he dispatched a penalty to round off his three-goal tally, awarded for a foul by Antonio Alcaraz on Park on the edge of the area.

Sir Alex Ferguson opted to rest Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck, both dropping to the bench as Berbatov partnered Javier Hernandez in attack.

Carrick was forced to fill in at centre-half after Phil Jones failed to recover from a facial injury, while Anders Lindegaard continued in goal for the home side. Roberto Martinez, meanwhile, named an unchanged XI from the side which drew with Liverpool in midweek.

Valencia, starting at right-back, quickly found space in an attacking capacity but it was his counterpart at left-back, Patrice Evra, who forged the breakthrough after seven minutes.

The Frenchman embarked on a swashbuckling run past multiple defenders into the area before pulling back to Park, who, with little space, aimed a clinical finish into the corner of the net.

Having been brushed aside for the opener, Wigan nearly created an equaliser against the run of play, with Ronnie Stam finding space to cross from the right, but Sammon failed to connect with his head.

United were comfortably on top as the half-hour mark approached, and Nani nearly doubled the hosts' advantage when he dispatched a free-kick just past the post from an excellent central position.

Again on the counter, Wigan put together some quick combinations outside the penalty area ending with Sammon receiving the ball on the edge of the box with his back to goal, yet the Irishman could only a muster a tame shot on the turn that was easily saved.

A terrible two minutes for the visitors then began when Sammon was harshly red-carded for what referee Phil Dowd judged was an attempted elbow on Carrick when jostling to receive the ball.

                        Berba-top | The Bulgarian grabbed his fourth goal in two games

The blow was compounded when Berbatov immediately capitalised, displaying strength and technique to take the ball at point-blank range away from the clutches of Alcaraz and finish stylishly past the helpless Ali Al-Habsi, leaving Wigan reeling at the break.

United brought on youngster Zeki Fryers for Jonny Evans at half-time while Wigan turned to Franco di Santo to recreate the focal point in attack that Sammon's dismissal had left.

However, the hosts might have gone three up immediately after the restart, when Park’s close-range header was blocked by Al-Habsi with the South Korean unable to reach the rebound. Berbatov then shot over in what was a threatening start for Ferguson’s men.

David Jones made an admirable attempt to pull one back when Wigan were awarded a free-kick from 25 yards out, but his left-footed effort flew just inches past Lindegaard’s post.

The Old Trafford outfit extended their lead just before the hour mark, much to the delight of the home crowd, with Berbatov displaying a delightful spin on the ball to take Gary Caldwell out of the equation before slotting home emphatically.

Neither half-time substitute covered themselves in glory when Fryers’ slip allowed Di Santo a free effort on goal, but the Argentine’s shot was scuffed and the chance wasted.

Fellow replacement Rooney then carved out a great opportunity for Hernandez with a lofted ball into the box, but the Mexican’s point-blank shot was saved well by Al-Habsi.

But it did not take too much longer for the rampant hosts to score again, with Carrick’s simple pass supplying Valencia on the right following a Wigan clearance. The Ecuadorian took one touch before rifling into the far corner in style to compound his former club's misery.

Things then went from bad to worse for Wigan when Alcaraz was adjudged to have fouled Park in the area. The penalty was awarded despite the Paraguayan’s insistence that the offence occurred outside the box, and Berbatov’s spot-kick was calmness personified, as he wrong-footed Al-Habsi and sealed his hat-trick.

The victory sees the Red Devils record their second successive 5-0 victory and also make ground on rivals Manchester City, who were held to a goalless draw at West Brom.

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