Berbatov's five blacks out Rovers

Berbatov's five blacks out Rovers

The Bulgarian, eclipsing team-mate Wayne Rooney in the England striker's first league start since the beginning of October, put in a five-star performance after wrapping up his hat-trick two minutes after the break.

Under increasing flak for a scoring drought extending back to September, Berbatov was only the fourth player to score five in a single game in the Premier League.  In the absence of champions Chelsea, who can reclaim top spot at Newcastle United on Sunday, Arsenal enjoyed a brief spell in first place after beating Aston Villa 4-2 in the early match.

United, now unbeaten for 29 games in all competitions, have 31 points from 15 games to second-placed Arsenal's 29.  Carlo Ancelotti's misfiring Chelsea, who have lost three of their last four Premier League encounters, slipped to third overall with 28 points from 14.

Manchester City, held 1-1 at Stoke City after conceding a late equaliser, stayed fourth on 26 points.  West Ham United remained bottom despite a 3-1 home win over another relegation-threatened side, Wigan Athletic, after fellow strugglers Wolverhampton Wanderers overcame Sunderland 3-2.

West Bromwich Albion returned to form by trouncing Everton 4-1 at Goodison Park while Bolton Wanderers recovered from two goals down to draw 2-2 at home to Blackpool.

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