Premier League - United grab late win at Blackpool

Tue, 25 Jan 21:45:00 2011

Dimitar Berbatov hit a second-half double as Manchester United came from two goals down to beat Blackpool 3-2 at Bloomfield Road and go five points clear at the top of the Premier League.

Former United man Craig Cathcart headed Blackpool ahead after 15 minutes before DJ Campbell doubled the advantage two minutes before the break as the Seasiders looked to capitalise on a lacklustre first-half display by the visitors.

But Berbatov halved the deficit after 72 minutes and substitute Javier Hernandez soon drew United level before the Bulgarian completed the 16-minute comeback with two minutes remaining.

United travelled to Bloomfield Road unbeaten in 27 Premier League games and having thrashed Birmingham City 5-0 at Old Trafford on Saturday.

Sir Alex Ferguson made four changes to that side, with Darren Fletcher, John O’Shea, Paul Scholes and Darron Gibson all starting.

Charlie Adam kept his place in Blackpool’s starting line-up despite handing in a transfer request, with Ian Holloway making two changes - Alex Baptiste and Campbell added to the line-up - to the team that lost 2-1 at home to Sunderland.

Blackpool's last league victory over United came way back in 1963 but the hosts took the lead when Cathcart, signed by Blackpool from United in the summer, delivered a bullet header from Adam’s corner after being left free by Berbatov.

And, with Berbatov and Wayne Rooney isolated, Holloway’s side continued to play the better football, with Edwin van der Sar producing a smart save to stop captain Nemanja Vidic heading into his own net.

Vidic soon gifted Blackpool another gilt-edged chance, with the Serbian’s poor clearance giving Luke Varney possession before Elliot Grandin fired over from 12 yards.

That sparked Ferguson into action and the United boss issued Rooney with barrage of instructions, pushing the England striker into a central position as the visitors reverted to 4-4-2.

Gibson then registered United’s first shot on target , after 34 minutes, shooting straight at Richard Kingson from distance, before Nani fired over from 20 yards with four minutes of the first half remaining.

But there was still time for Blackpool, whose starting line-up cost just £3.5 million to assemble, to double their lead.

David Vaughan’s long-range shot had Van der Sar at full-stretch, forcing a corner, and Adam’s near-post cross was inadvertently flicked on by Nani, allowing Campbell to nod home unmarked.

Ryan Giggs replaced Gibson at half-time but if Ferguson unleashed his trademark hairdryer during the break then it had little immediate effect.

Gary Taylor-Fletcher was allowed to break free on the right flank before driving to the byline and firing in a low cross which Rafael cleared from under his own bar.

Rafael was then fortunate not to have a penalty given against him as he bundled over Varney in the box, a decision which angered Holloway on the touchline.

But with Blackpool tiring quickly, Ferguson’s troops began to find their feet, with Scholes seeing a trademark drive from the edge of the box punched clear by Kingson and Giggs, the driving force behind United's turnaround, shooting wide from Nani’s deep cross.

Rooney’s disappointing night ended after 66 minutes when the striker, who has only scored three times in the league this season, was replaced by Hernandez.

The Mexican almost had an instant impact, drifting behind the Blackpool defence but shooting straight at Kingson, who did well to make himself big.

But United forced their way back into the game when Nani delivered a neat reverse pass to set Fletcher free, with the Scotsman's cross then side-footed home by Berbatov from close range

Blackpool were dead on their feet and Hernandez capitalised, again beating the offside trap and latching onto Giggs’s lofted through-ball before firing low past Kingson.

Rafael required lengthy treatment and was stretchered off after a clash of heads with Marlon Harewood, eventually leading to 10 minutes of added time.

But the Brazilian would have heard the cheers from the United fans as he was being carried down the tunnel after Scholes released Berbatov down the right channel and the Bulgarian unleashed an unstoppable left-footed shot past Kingson for his 20th goal of the season.

George Scott / Eurosport

Not already a Yahoo! user ? to get a free Yahoo! Account