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Premier League: Manchester United 5 Wigan 0

Dimitar Berbatov’s hat-trick helped Manchester United crush a 10-man Wigan side for a fifth successive league win.

Park Ji-Sung opened the scoring after eight minutes following a thrilling run by Patrice Evra, before striker Conor Sammon was sent off for elbowing Michael Carrick near the half-time interval.

Berbatov opened his account in the 41st minute, before a fine turn from saw him notch United’s third in the 58th minute and then Antonio Valencia buried a fantastic long-range strike on 75 minutes.

Three minutes later the Bulgarian striker scored from the penalty spot to round off his three-goal tally, awarded for a foul by Antonio Alcaraz on Park on the edge of the area.

Evra forged the breakthrough in the eighth minute beating multiple defenders before pulling back to Park, who, with little space, aimed a clinical finish into the corner of the net.

Wigan almostcreated 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 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.

The blow was compounded when Berbatov immediately capitalised, displaying strength and technique to take the ball away from the clutches of Alcaraz and finish stylishly past the helpless Ali Al-Habsi.

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.

Midfielder 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 past Anders Lindegaard’s post.

United extended their lead just before the hour with Berbatov displaying a delightful spin on the ball to take Gary Caldwell out of the equation before slotting home.

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 wrong-footed Al-Habsi to seal his hat-trick.

Mon 26 Dec, 2011
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