Goal of the Day: Berbatov’s magical assist
Today’s 'Goal of the Day' owes more to Dimitar Berbatov's exceptional assist than Cristiano Ronaldo's finish...
Date: 29 October 2008, Old Trafford, Premier League
Background: Augmenting an attack of Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez with the considerable menace of Dimitar Berbatov gave Sir Alex Ferguson an embarrassment of riches during the 2008/09 campaign. The Bulgarian’s unique talents required some assimilation into a side who were already the reigning European champions, but towards the end of his second month at the club, Berbatov showcased his astonishing skills in unforgettable fashion against West Ham.
The goal: United were already ahead through Cristiano Ronaldo’s early opener when Berbatov gave chase to Anderson’s ball down the left flank. Though he was running out of room, with Hammers defender James Collins in close attendance, the Reds’ then-record signing reached the ball with two yards of pitch to spare and, in one motion, kept it in play, spun, flicked it past the bamboozled Collins and advanced along the byline before crossing for the onrushing Ronaldo to score from three yards.
What happened next: That was the end of the scoring, as United comfortably saw out a 2-0 victory, but the assist quickly took its place as one of the great hallmarks of Berbatov’s genius.
Reaction: “After he’d scored, I tried to look so cool… no emotion, just walking back to the halfway line like nothing had happened, like: ‘Yeah, this is a usual day for me,’” the Bulgarian later recalled. “But inside I was like: ‘Did you all see that?’”