I've said for a while that I wasn't sure that Dimitar Berbatov was worth the 30 million quid United spent on him. Yesterday, he proved to me that he was well worth it. His fans have said that he needed games to get going...he's had them this year, playing in all 5 league matches and now we're seeing his quality.
Yesterday, Berbatov became a United legend. No, he's not quite on the same level as Charlton or Best or Giggs...but he's on the list. When you score the first hat trick against Liverpool since 1946, that's what happens. I hope that this is the monkey he's been carrying on his back...and now he can be as comfortable at Old Trafford as he was at White Hart Lane.
If you hadn't noticed, Berba is tied with Flourent Molouda at Chelsea with 6 goals apiece...leading the Premier League. Nani is tied with Drogba with 5 assists...it's no wonder both of them were involved in this goal...
To set this up, Rooney had tripped Torres and picked up a yellow card in the 57th minute. Liverpool tried twice to get the ball into the box, the first time headed back out; the second was a Nani interception. Nani kicked the ball to try and find Berbatov, but the ball went all the way to the keeper.
Liverpool then brought the ball forward and Joe Cole's shot from about 25 yards was wide left. Van der Sar and Evans played catch before VDS kicked the ball across the halfway line to a Liverpool head, back across the halfway line to Scholes' head to Nani on the right, who kicked it off a Liverpool player out of bounds. The ball was thrown in and Scholes passed it back to Evans, just in front of the 18 yard box, and to the left to Evra, who passed it on to Giggs and then to Fletcher.....
In the first picture, Fletcher is kicking the ball to the flag in the far corner for Nani to chase down. You can see that Liverpool are trying to hold a high line and are (at least in the picture) in a 4-5-1. A long diagonal pass to a speedy winger is a great way to break the high line.
In this picture, Nani has chased the ball down and has cut back to give him a passing lane. This is EXACTLY what United failed to do against Rangers...penetrate deep down the wings and cross the ball. Nani's cut-back and move past the defender is timed perfectly with Rooney and Berbatov coming into the box.
However, the pass, which appeared to be headed towards Rooney's forehead, reached Berbatov's knee, which setup this beautiful bicycle kick. Liverpool have seven defenders in the box (not counting the keeper) and of those seven, only one of them is in a position of worry for Berbatov. If Berba misses the ball, you can see that Giggs is there as well.
This is what happens when you spread the field wide. Tuesday night, that cross might have flown in from 40 yards deep, into a sea of blue shirts. Fletcher's originating pass from the left (and the ball work with Giggs before that) caused the midfield to close down on our left. Nani brought the midfielder to the corner in the ensuing foot race to get the ball with their left back coming out to help. That left 3 defenders in the box with their midfield still trying to catch up.