Home » EPL, Latest » Match Report: Manchester United 5 Birmingham 0

Dimitar Berbatov scored his third hat-trick of the season as Manchester United routed Birmingham City at Old Trafford.

The Bulgarian striker took his Premier League goal tally to 17 for the season as goals from Ryan Giggs and Nani completed a 5-0 victory.

United manager Sir Alex Ferguson was even able to rest first-teamers such as Rio Ferdinand, Darren Fletcher and the fit-again Paul Scholes ahead of Tuesday’s clash with Blackpool at Bloomfield Road in a game that proved routine for the league leaders.

Birmingham, who face West Ham in the second-leg of their Carling Cup semi-final at St Andrews on Wednesday, held United to a 1-1 draw on home turf last month thanks to a late Lee Bowyer goal.

But once Berbatov opened the scoring for United after just 96 seconds, it was clear that Birmingham were not going to emerge from Old Trafford with another point to show for their efforts.

Perhaps McLeish’s team were subconsciously thinking ahead to the date with Avram Grant’s men because their minds were clearly not focused on stopping United. It was all too easy for the home side.

Berbatov’s opener was a straightforward header from two yards after John O’Shea had flicked Giggs’s corner.

But the failure of goalkeeper Ben Foster to collect the corner was noticeable and a reminder as to why Ferguson felt able to sell the England keeper to Birmingham last summer.

Ferguson had clearly sent his team out with instructions to test Foster with crosses and high balls and, on every occasion, the keeper looked ill at ease.

His uncertainty spread through the Birmingham back four and United’s second goal, on 31 minutes, came following a misplaced pass by defender Roger Johnson, which was cut out by Anderson, whose quick ball forward sparked United’s goal.

Anderson’s ball to Rooney saw the forward race forward before threading a pass to Berbatov, who scored past Foster from 12 yards.

Birmingham were now looking to keep the score down, but United continued to pour forward and Giggs scored the goal of the game in first-half stoppage time.

The 37-year-old rounded off slick interplay between Berbatov and Rooney by scoring from a tight angle inside the six yard box.

Despite United’s breathtaking forward play, Rooney continued to look for his first goal at Old Trafford since a penalty against West Ham in August.

The chance looked to have come on 47 minutes when Nani’s far post cross found Rooney unmarked, but from three yards, the England striker headed wide.

He was still able to create, however, and after receiving Edwin van der Sar’s clearance on 54 minutes, he released Giggs to tee up Berbatov’s hat-trick goal – a slide in strike from close range.

Birmingham’s woeful performance was then summed up on 58 minutes when Irish midfielder Keith Fahey missed an open goal from three yards after being teed up by Matt Derbyshire.

And Nani compounded their misery when he made it 5-0 with a left foot strike from 20 yards on 75 minutes.

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