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Mon, 20 Sep 00:01:00 2010
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United were dominant for the first hour with two goals from the Bulgarian striker, but two strikes in six minutes by Steven Gerrard dragged Liverpool level before Berbatov won it six minutes from time.
Chelsea made it five wins out of five with 21 goals scored and one conceded after they ripped through promoted Blackpool with first-half goals by Salomon Kalou, Florent Malouda (two) and Didier Drogba.
Tottenham Hotspur are fifth on eight points and last season's top-five finishers now occupy the first five slots.
In the day's big game at Old Trafford, United were in total control after Berbatov headed in a 42nd-minute corner and added a brilliant second by bringing down a cross on his thigh with his back to goal and scoring with an overhead kick.
Liverpool, who had offered nothing in attack, then profited from rash defending which allowed Gerrard to pull one back with a penalty after 64 minutes and equalise with a free kick six minutes later.
"I was saying to myself it's going to be 10 but you end up 2-2; it was a travesty of a scoreline but a great result in the end," manager Alex Ferguson told Sky Sports.
For the second week running a Drogba corner helped Chelsea into the lead inside two minutes, this time an unmarked Kalou tucking in at the far post.
Drogba also provided the second after 13 minutes, crossing low for Malouda, then the Ivorian striker got on the scoresheet when he swivelled on the edge of the box to bang in the third via a deflection.
Malouda cracked in his second after a Kalou pull-back four minutes before halftime.
Chelsea's fans sat back awaiting more goals but a combination of better Blackpool defence and a drop in attacking intensity led to a scoreless second period.
"It's fantastic, through the years we improve and we try to score as many as we can," Drogba said.
"We scored four in the first half and in the second we had so many chances so maybe this is something we have to think about even if the result was great."
Darren Bent scored in the fifth minute of stoppage time to earn Sunderland a 1-1 home draw after 10-man Arsenal had scored a freak goal but also missed a penalty.
Arsenal had led through a bizarre early Cesc Fabregas goal, had Alex Song sent off after 55 minutes and saw Tomas Rosicky blaze a 74th minute penalty over the bar but just when it seemed they had held out for the win England striker Bent struck.
Arsenal could have gone top with a victory but instead are now a point behind leaders Chelsea, who have 12 from four matches before they host Blackpool on Sunday after third-placed Manchester United, with eight points, take on Liverpool.
Earlier some inspired substitutions gave a relieved Tottenham Hotspur a 3-1 home win over Wolverhampton Wanderers as Harry Redknapp's team scored three in the last 13 minutes to move up to fourth spot with eight points from five games.
Everton could not repeat their own comeback heroics from last week as they lost at home in the league for the first time in 10 months via a superb 45th-minute strike by Newcastle United's Hatem Ben Arfa to leave them second-last on two points.
Second-placed Arsenal were within seconds of displacing their London rivals at the top of the standings following an extraordinary encounter in the north-east.
After manager Arsene Wenger raised hackles all round the league this week by complaining about other teams' over-physical approach it was his side who were the aggressors against a Sunderland outfit playing most of the football.
If their approach was unusual, so was their goal, as Fabregas blocked an Anton Ferdinand clearance then watched in amazement as the ball flew 35 metres into the net over the head of bemused Sunderland goalkeeper Simon Mignolet.
The Spain midfielder sustained a hamstring strain in the incident and went off after 30 minutes.
Arsenal, who scored 18 goals in their previous four games, defended doggedly in the face of relentless Sunderland pressure, particularly after Song's dismissal for a second booking.
Even when Rosicky blasted a fortunate penalty over the bar after a foul on Samir Nasri it seemed they would get away with it but Sunderland threw everyone forward and Bent banged in a deserved equaliser, sending the home fans almost as wild as Wenger.
"I know it's a minimum of four minutes but nothing happened in those four minutes to justify them adding more," the furious Frenchman told ESPN.
"I believe the performance was good. We had problems starting in the first half, in the second half we played very well with 10 men and were in control of the game. Unfortunately, in the 95th minute they equalised," he added.
Sunderland manager Steve Bruce said: "They got a fluke of a goal. We got our reward for a very good performance."
Spurs, who made their Champions League debut with a draw away to Werder Bremen on Tuesday, looked to be suffering a European hangover as Steven Fletcher put Wolves ahead, but Redknapp's changes turned the game.
Aaron Lennon joined the fray after 86 minutes and sent in the cross that led to 67th-minute substitute Roman Pavlyuchenko putting Spurs ahead three minutes from time with Hutton scrambling in a fortunate third.
"Alan had a great second half, Pav came on, hadn't touched the ball for 20 minutes, but it fell to him and he rolled it in, Aaron came on and had a fantastic little spell for us," Redknapp told the BBC.
"It's hard playing Tuesday and Saturday so you need people coming off the bench, you need strength in depth."Reuters