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Rocking Berba

Posted: 25 Jan 2011 09:12 PM PST

Red-hot striker inspires United in amazing comeback win at Bloomfield Road

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011 13:05:00

Football

RED COUNT: Goal king Berbatov salutes tough Manchester United

LONDON: Manchester United remarkably recovered from a two-goal half-time deficit to beat Blackpool 3-2 at Bloomfield Road this morning and go five points clear at the summit.

At the break, on top and two goals up, it appeared Blackpool would end United's unbeaten record and achieve a result that would go down in the history books alongside the "Matthews Final" in 1953.

But those goals from Red Devils old-boy Craig Cathcart and DJ Campbell in the 14th and 42nd minutes were insufficient to resist the visitors, who were galvanised by Ryan Giggs and Javier Hernandez.

The Mexican, coming as a substitute for the offcolour Wayne Rooney, struck the all-important equaliser in the 73rd minute.

But once again it was Dimitar Berbatov who did the damage for the rampant United, tapping home his side's first 19 minutes from time before driving home his 20th goal of the season in the 88th minute — and his fifth in four days — for the win.

A delighted Berbatov hailed United's unbreakable spirit after their remarkable comeback.

"We have the mentality that we can win even when we are 1-0 or 2-0 down. We are always confident that if we can score one, we can score even more," he said.

"The first-half was not so good for us, but we overcame that and played well in the second. Blackpool played well, scored some goals and could have had more in the first half, but at half-time, we said we could do it.

"The substitutions did change the game.

"Giggs has experience and Chicharito (Hernandez) just wants to score goals, but it was the team spirit that won the game.

"We now have to move on until the end of the season and finish on the top, but we can't underestimate the other teams."

United boss Alex Ferguson claims he always believed his side could come back having seen recover so many times.

"They just never give in," he said, adding that rightback Rafael had gone to hospital suffering from concussion.

"In the first-half, we were battered. We couldn't handle Charlie Adam. His corners are worth £10 million (RM48.3m) alone. But I know the game's never done in situations like this. You know at some point, we're going to do something."

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Contract ‘rebel’ Alves can leave Barca, says Guardiola

Posted: 25 Jan 2011 09:03 PM PST

BARCELONA: Manager Josep "Pep" Guardiola hopes Dani Alves will commit to Barcelona, but will not block a possible departure.

The Brazilian rightback is set to see his contract at Nou Camp expire in the summer of 2012, meaning he will be free to discuss a deal with other clubs in 12 months' time.

Barca are keen for him to stay put and hope fresh terms can be thrashed out, but appreciate that Alves may opt to take on a new challenge.

The 27-year-old remains a first-team regular under Guardiola, and is a key part of his plans heading forward.

But the Barca boss insists he will not stand in the way of any player who wants to move on.

"We have talked about it with Dani, I told him how I feel, and I do not want him to stay here while he is unhappy. He deserves to ask for what he wants, and the club has the right to give it, or not. I want him to be happy here, or anywhere," said Guardiola.

Guardiola also spoke on the future of Eric Abidal and Thiago Alcantara, who are in a similar position to Alves.

He is confident a deal can be agreed with French fullback Abidal, while he has sought to assure teenage midfielder Alcantara that he has an important part to play at Nou Camp in the future.

On Abidal, he said: "The club are aware, I think that he will renew, and we want him to continue here because he is a very important player for us."

Guardiola also ruled out any possibility of Alcantara being allowed to leave.

"Thiago is not moving. Next year, he will be in the first team. He stays."

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