skip to content
The official flags Matt Derbyshire offside. Edwin Van der Sar takes the free kick.
Cameron Jerome takes a shot. Edwin Van der Sar makes a save.
The ball is swung over by Michael Owen, save made by Ben Foster.
David Bentley leaves the field to be replaced by Craig Gardner. Shot by Matt Derbyshire from outside the box goes high over the crossbar.
(Birmingham) makes a substitution, with Craig Gardner coming on for David Bentley. Effort from just outside the area by Jordon Mutch goes over the target.
Centre by Fabio Da Silva, Ben Foster makes a save.
The ball is crossed by Luis Nani, Sebastian Larsson manages to make a clearance.
Michael Owen produces a right-footed shot from the edge of the box and misses to the right of the goal.
Sebastian Larsson takes the inswinging corner, Edwin Van der Sar makes a save.
Darron Gibson sends in a cross, clearance made by Liam Ridgewell.
Shot on goal by Luis Nani from just inside the area clears the crossbar.
Luis Nani produces a cross, Shot by Wayne Rooney from inside the six-yard box clear the bar.
Goal scored by Luis Nani from just outside the box to the bottom left corner of the goal. Man Utd 5-0 Birmingham.Assist on the goal came from John O'Shea.
Unfair challenge on Liam Ridgewell by Michael Owen results in a free kick. David Bentley restarts play with the free kick.
Liam Ridgewell fouled by Michael Owen, the ref awards a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Liam Ridgewell.
Luis Nani takes a shot. Save by Ben Foster.
Effort from inside the area by Dimitar Berbatov misses to the left of the target.
Effort from inside the area by Dimitar Berbatov misses to the left of the goal.
David Bentley takes a shot. Roger Johnson gets a block in.
Luis Nani delivers the ball.
Keith Fahey goes off and Sebastian Larsson comes on. Luis Nani takes a shot. Save made by Ben Foster.
Sebastian Larsson joins the action as a substitute, replacing Keith Fahey. Luis Nani takes a shot. Ben Foster makes a save.
Jordon Mutch gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Darron Gibson. Oliveira Anderson restarts play with the free kick.
The ball is delivered by Luis Nani, save by Ben Foster.
Luis Nani produces a right-footed shot from the edge of the box and misses to the right of the goal.
The ball is sent over by David Murphy, clearance made by Chris Smalling.
Foul by Darron Gibson on Keith Fahey, free kick awarded. Direct free kick taken by David Murphy.
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Wayne Rooney by Roger Johnson. Direct effort from the free kick comes in from Luis Nani.
Michael Owen replaces Ryan Giggs.
Luis Nani produces a left-footed shot from just outside the area that goes harmlessly over the target.
Dimitar Berbatov gets on the score sheet with a goal from inside the six-yard box to the top left corner of the goal. Man Utd 4-0 Birmingham.Assist by Ryan Giggs.
David Bentley produces a left-footed shot from just outside the penalty box that misses to the left of the goal.
Fabio Da Silva on for Patrice Evra. Cameron Jerome replaces Alexander Hleb.
The ball is sent over by David Murphy.
Headed effort from close range by Wayne Rooney goes wide left of the target.
Ryan Giggs finds the net with a fantastic goal from inside the area to the top left corner of the goal. Man Utd 3-0 Birmingham.Assist on the goal came from Wayne Rooney.
Outswinging corner taken by Ryan Giggs from the left by-line played to the near post, clearance by Matt Derbyshire.
Oliveira Anderson fouled by Jordon Mutch, the ref awards a free kick. Oliveira Anderson takes the free kick.
Fabio Da Silva replaces Patrice Evra. Cameron Jerome is brought on as a substitute for Alexander Hleb.
Fabio Da Silva is brought on as a substitute for Patrice Evra. (Birmingham) makes a substitution, with Cameron Jerome coming on for Alexander Hleb.
Luis Nani takes the outswinging corner, free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Stephen Carr by Nemanja Vidic. Ben Foster restarts play with the free kick.
Ryan Giggs delivers the ball, Chris Smalling challenges Ben Foster unfairly and gives away a free kick. Ben Foster restarts play with the free kick.
Corner taken left-footed by Ryan Giggs from the right by-line to the near post, Roger Johnson manages to make a clearance.
Outswinging corner taken by Luis Nani from the right by-line.
The ball is sent over by Luis Nani. Ryan Giggs takes a shot. Blocked by Jordon Mutch. Outswinging corner taken left-footed by Ryan Giggs played to the near post, clearance made by Matt Derbyshire.
Darron Gibson takes the chance to get an effort at goal. Save made by Ben Foster.
Patrice Evra challenges David Bentley unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick crossed by David Bentley, Dimitar Berbatov makes a clearance.
The offside flag is raised against Dimitar Berbatov. Free kick taken by Ben Foster.
Unfair challenge on Wayne Rooney by Barry Ferguson results in a free kick. Oliveira Anderson restarts play with the free kick.
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Matt Derbyshire by Patrice Evra. David Bentley takes the free kick.
Shot from just outside the penalty box by Dimitar Berbatov misses to the left of the target.
Goal scored by Dimitar Berbatov from close in to the bottom right corner of the goal. Man Utd 2-0 Birmingham.Assist by Wayne Rooney.
Luis Nani produces a right-footed shot from long distance which goes wide right of the goal.
The ball is sent over by Luis Nani.
The ball is swung over by David Bentley.
The ball is sent over by David Bentley, clearance made by Nemanja Vidic.
Keith Fahey has an effort at goal from outside the box which misses left.
Corner crossed in by David Bentley, save by Edwin Van der Sar.
Darron Gibson on for Michael Carrick. Inswinging corner taken left-footed by David Bentley played to the near post, clearance by Darron Gibson.
The official flags Dimitar Berbatov offside. Ben Foster takes the indirect free kick.
Chris Smalling challenges Matt Derbyshire unfairly and gives away a free kick. The free kick is delivered right-footed by David Bentley from left channel, clearance by Nemanja Vidic.
The ball is sent over by Luis Nani, Ryan Giggs takes a shot. Blocked by Liam Ridgewell. Luis Nani produces a left-footed shot from the edge of the area and misses to the left of the target.
Luis Nani crosses the ball, clearance made by David Murphy.
Outswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Ryan Giggs, Foul by Chris Smalling on Jordon Mutch, free kick awarded. Ben Foster takes the free kick.
Wayne Rooney delivers the ball, Barry Ferguson manages to make a clearance.
Ryan Giggs takes the outswinging corner, Roger Johnson manages to make a clearance.
Corner taken by Ryan Giggs from the right by-line, clearance by Jordon Mutch.
Jordon Mutch fouled by Luis Nani, the ref awards a free kick. Ben Foster takes the direct free kick.
Luis Nani challenges Jordon Mutch unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Ben Foster.
A cross is delivered by Patrice Evra, clearance by Stephen Carr. Outswinging corner taken left-footed by Ryan Giggs, Liam Ridgewell makes a clearance.
Michael Carrick produces a right-footed shot from just outside the box that goes wide right of the target.
Dimitar Berbatov takes a shot. Save by Ben Foster.
Liam Ridgewell challenges Luis Nani unfairly and gives away a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Oliveira Anderson.
Dimitar Berbatov finds the back of the net with a headed goal from inside the six-yard box. Man Utd 1-0 Birmingham.Ryan Giggs takes a inswinging corner from the right by-line to the near post, the assist for the goal came from John O'Shea.
The referee gets the game underway.
The match has reached half-time.
The referee gets the second half started.
The game is over, as the referee blows his whistle.
Fergie's twin approach
Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has jokingly suggested he could get round Rafael's absence against Birmingham by pretending the 20-year-old was twin brother Fabio instead.
The lookalike pair create regular confusion at Old Trafford, often deliberate, and have even confused match officials during their time in England.
At Barnsley last season, referee Chris Foy booked Fabio instead of Rafael so confused did he get by the pair's presence, so it is easy to see how Ferguson might get away with fielding one instead of the other.
"I could play Rafa and say he was Fabio quite easily. There is no way they could know," he laughed.
"Probably they have the same DNA. Maybe it wasn't Rafael who was sent off last week? It is definitely a thought.
"The referee booked the wrong one at Barnsley, so one day you could play one in the first-half and the other in the second."
Ferguson's joviality betrayed a tough decision for the United manager, with Fabio, John O'Shea and Wes Brown all in contention to face Birmingham at the start of a crucial four-day period that ends with a trip to Blackpool, which Rafael will return for after being handed merely an #8,000 fine and a warning for his remonstrations to Mike Dean at White Hart Lane.
Back-to-back victories would leave the Red Devils in pole position to regain their title, registering a record 19th championship in the process.
Not that Ferguson can afford to take anything for granted against a team that snatched two points off United thanks to Lee Bowyer's last-gasp equaliser at St Andrew's on December 28 and for whom the phrase "hard to beat" could have been invented.
"We are expecting the same battling virtues from Birmingham that we saw at St Andrew's," said Ferguson.
"They do have fighting qualities in their team. They will play five across the middle of the pitch, will keep possession and try to make it difficult for us.
"But at Manchester United, when you play against teams who have a certain way of playing, you have to find solutions."
Birmingham manager Alex McLeish believes United can emulate Arsenal and go through the season unbeaten in the Barclays Premier League.
McLeish believes it is "ominous" that United have still to taste defeat despite not firing on all cylinders during the early part of the campaign.
He also feels the experience of his mentor at Aberdeen, Sir Alex Ferguson, will again be crucial and give United the upper hand during the run-in.
McLeish said: "I think it's ominous, the fact that they've got to this stage unbeaten and their form is probably gathering momentum.
"They are probably looking better now than in the earlier part of the season when they had a lot of draws.
"It's amazing that they are unbeaten and I think that they can only get better."
Asked if they could go throughout the league campaign without losing, McLeish added: "Of course they can. It would be a hell of an achievement.
"In terms of the title, it is such a tight league but Manchester United have so much experience of this situation.
"There is no man who has got greater experience than Sir Alex when it comes to the run-in, and the run of games after January."
McLeish has challenged his players to relish the task facing them against the Red Devils.
He said: "The spirit in the dressing room has never been in doubt. Players have always gone right to the very end of games.
"We know Old Trafford is a very difficult place to go and win but it is a great challenge for the players.
"It is a fantastic arena and the pressure is off us, in that we won't be favourites to win the game.
"But it is not worth getting out of bed in the morning if you don't think you can go and do something.
"We've got to go there and believe we can surprise them, surprise everyone.
"It is a privilege for the boys to be playing professional football and it should be their ambition to go to places like Old Trafford and show how well they can do."
Dimi treble sees off sorry Blues
Dimitar Berbatov scored his third hat-trick of the season as Manchester United turned in a superb performance to demolish sorry Birmingham 5-0.
The prolific Bulgarian now has 18 goals this season and yet another match ball to go alongside those he collected against Liverpool and Blackburn earlier in the campaign.
More importantly for Sir Alex Ferguson, his side tightened their grip on top spot in the table, with Ryan Giggs and Nani also finding the net as the leaders extended their unbeaten run this season to 22 games ahead of Tuesday's trip to Blackpool, the first of their matches in hand.
Berbatov for one will be looking forward to his first outing at Bloomfield Road, knowing just how much damage he is capable of inflicting.
It has been said so often that United are way below their best this season that it is almost accepted truth. Yet a three-goal first-half salvo gave lie to the theory as the visitors were pummelled from every angle.
There were less than two minutes on the clock when Ryan Giggs chipped a corner to the near post.
John O'Shea, making his first appearance since the end of November, stooped to flick on and Berbatov, two yards out, could not miss.
Berbatov was denied a second virtually straight away as he strode onto Rooney's pass and fired a fierce shot at the Birmingham goal that former Red Devil Ben Foster kept out with his feet.
It may not be quite the swashbuckling manner of Cristiano Ronaldo, or Eric Cantona before him, but United now appear to strangle the life out of opponents, tightening their grip mercilessly once an advantage has been established.
The method is not foolproof, as Birmingham proved with their late equaliser at St Andrew's three weeks ago.
But United are pretty good at exerting their power and once Birmingham had not profited from an enterprising flurry of attacks, it was no surprise when they scored again.
If this is a season to forget, goalscoring wise, for Rooney, Berbatov is having the time of his life.
Driving through the heart of Birmingham's defence, the England star rolled a precise pass to his left, offering Berbatov the space to step inside Roger Johnson and beat Foster low at his near post.
Berbatov was close to completing his latest hat-trick on United's next attack.
He did not know it at the time, but as he watched his curling effort fly inches wide of Foster's goal, the wait was not going to be too long.
United did score again before the break, a move that proved Berbatov can do little wrong at present.
The former Tottenham star actually slipped as he tried to retrieve possession just outside the Birmingham box.
Yet somehow he still managed to rob Alexander Hleb despite being in the prone position. A couple of passes to Rooney later and his strike partner was crossing for Giggs, who rammed home at the far post.
Goal difference may yet become a factor later in the season and United had started the day better off in that regard than Mancunian rivals City. Berbatov, though, remained keen to help the cause yet further.
Yet another industrious piece of work from Rooney set his side in forward motion again.
Giggs was aware enough to know where Berbatov was and, once found in a central position barely six yards out, the rest was academic.
Not even Ronaldo claimed three hat-tricks in one season for all his scoring feats. And to think, there were plenty who felt Ferguson would jettison his club record signing last summer.
United kept going and Nani's repeated attempts to find the net finally paid off 13 minutes from time, when he cut in from the right and beat Foster from 20 yards.
More chances came and went. Rooney must wonder exactly what he has to do to get goals these days, whilst Nani and substitute Michael Owen also came close to a sixth.
It did not come. But after such an amazing season for his own team, Blackpool boss Ian Holloway's smile might turn into a frown when he considers how to stop Berbatov at Bloomfield Road on Tuesday.
© 2004 - 2014 football.co.uk