MANCHESTER, England -- Dimitar Berbatov completed a brilliant hat-trick six minutes from time to give Manchester United a 3-2 win over Liverpool on Sunday after a Steven Gerrard double had seemed set to earn the visitors a draw.
United were dominant for the first hour with two goals for the Bulgarian, but two strikes in six minutes by Gerrard had the hosts reeling.
After late equalizers against Everton and Fulham cost them wins in earlier Premier League matches, United had time to find the winner on Sunday and Berbatov got his third goal with a powerful header.
"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.
"They didn't offer anything really, Edwin (van der Sar) didn't have a save to make, (Paul) Scholes controlled the centre of midfield ... I couldn't see us losing that game."
Despite their early dominance, United had to wait until the 42nd minute to find the net as Berbatov shook off a weak challenge from Fernando Torres to head in a Ryan Giggs corner.
His second goal just before the hour was brilliantly executed as he brought down a cross on his thigh with his back to goal and scored with an overhead kick.
Liverpool, who had offered nothing in attack, profited from a rash challenge on Torres which enabled Gerrard to pull one back from the spot after 64 minutes.
Another unnecessary foul six minutes later gave Liverpool a free kick on the edge of the box which Gerrard curled through a disintegrating wall for the most unexpected of equalisers.
United won back the lead six minutes from time when Berbatov timed his jump perfectly to head home a John O'Shea cross and score his seventh goal in six games this season.
"There was a lot of criticism of him last year but this season he's started off in the right fashion and he's carried it along but there has never been any doubt about the quality of the man," Ferguson said of the Bulgarian.
The win takes United to 11 points, within one of leaders Chelsea, who were at home to Blackpool later on Sunday (1500 GMT).
Liverpool remain in the doldrums with five points from five games under new manager Roy Hodgson.
"I thought our second-half performance was good and we deserved to get back in the game," Hodgson said.
"To concede late on was tough, especially with all three goals from crosses. But I thought we made a really good effort in the second half to get back in it."