Date: 19th September 2010 at 3:40pm
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United edged home in a five goal thriller that saw Dimitar Berbatov hit his first United hat-trick.

Sir Alex Ferguson sprung a surprise with no inclusion of Rio Ferdinand in his starting eleven or on the substitutes` bench although it was later explained that was due to illness. The starting eleven did look a lot stronger than the eleven selected for the Rangers match in midweek.

United – Van der Sar, O`Shea, Vidic, Evans, Evra, Nani, Fletcher, Scholes, Giggs, Berbatov, Rooney.

For the opposition their latest expensive signing, Meireles, was in the starting eleven. Joe Cole was also recalled after serving a three match ban picked up for a red card received against Arsenal in the opening fixture of their campaign.

Liverpool – Reina, Johnson, Carragher, Skrtel, Konchesky, Meireles, Poulson, Maxi, Gerrard, Cole, Torres

United got the action underway and were immediately on the offensive forcing three corners in the first seven minutes. Unfortunately the first was headed over by Vidic, the second was cleared at the near post whilst the third saw the ball played back to Nani, who fed O`Shea only for the defender to scuff his shot.

Liverpool, with ten minutes of the half played hadn`t got into the United penalty box. Rooney and Berbatov combined well and when the ball was fed to Nani the winger chose to cut inside and made a bit of a hash of the chance.

United continued to force the issue and when Giggs won a corner the ball was worked back to Scholes but his shot flew over the bar. A rare forward foray by Liverpool saw Torres win a corner but Johnson could only drill his shot wide.

With half time approaching, United got the breakthrough their play had deserved. Giggs persistence saw Johnson concede a corner and when the first corner was headed behind for a second the Liverpool defence were caught napping as Berbatov stooped to head home at the near post.

United 1 Liverpool 0 (Berbatov – 41 minutes)

The goal almost opened the flood gates for United who had a strong appeal for a penalty turned down when Carrgaher appeared to handle the ball in the area. Just before the half time whistle was blown Rooney saw a strike bend just wide.

Half Time – United 1 Liverpool 0

Liverpool got the second half under way and it was United that forced the issue again. Nani saw a shot blocked before an effort from Fletcher took a deflection, looped high into the air and required Reina to rush out and thwart Berbatov.

Our visitors pushed forward and Torres volleyed over a Johnson cross before Nani almost give United a two goal lead with a fierce shot that hit the post high up.

Yellow Card – Rooney (foul on Torres-58 minutes)

Cole then dragged a shot wide as Liverpool tried to get back into the match but it was to be United that scored next. A tremendous cross-field ball from Fletcher was taken down by Nani who saw his cross brilliantly knocked in courtesy of an overhead kick from Berbatv.

United 2 Liverpool 0 (Berbatov – 59 minutes)

Liverpool were rocking and a Nani cross was hastily bundled away by the defence. Hodgson made a change bringing on Ngog for Maxi and suddenly Liverpool were back in it. A ball from Cole saw Evans foul Torres and Howard Webb pointed to the spot.

Yellow Card – Evans (foul on Torres – 63 minutes)

Gerrard stepped forward and sent Van der Sar the wrong way from the spot kick.

United 2 Liverpool 1 (Gerrard – 64 minutes)

Howard Webb then issued three more yellow cards as the match looked like spiralling out of control.

Yellow Card – Ngog (foul on Fletcher – 66 minutes)

Yellow Card – Scholes (kicking the ball away – 68 minutes)

Suddenly from being a goal down Liverpool were level when O`Shea was penalised dragging Torres back on the edge of the area.

Yellow Card – O`Shea (foul on Torres – 68 minutes)

Gerrard stepped forward, hit a low shot and watched it go through a wall that saw Fletcher drift of the end.

United 2 Liverpool 2 (Gerrard – 69 minutes)

Suddenly United had it all to do again. Roy Hodgson brought on Jovanovic for Meireles and Agger for Konchesky before Sir Alex introduced Macheda in place of Giggs.

With six minutes left United edged ahead again when Berbatov got his first ever hat-trick for United and his sixth Premier League goal of the season, rising to head home a cross from O`Shea at the far post.

United 3 – Liverpool 2 (Berbatov – 84)

Sir Alex wound down time by introducing Anderson and Gibson, withdrawing Nani and Berbatov and despite four minutes of added time being played there was no repeat of the conceding late goals scenario we`d witnessed at Fulham and Everton in recent weeks.

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