Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson claimed anything but a win would have been a travesty after seeing his side beat Liverpool 3-2.
Dimitar Berbatov completed a hat-trick six minutes from time to deny Liverpool after a Steven Gerrard double had hauled the visitors back from 2-0 down.
“From thinking to myself ‘it’s going to be 10’, we ended up level at 2-2,” said Ferguson after the Old Trafford clash.
“It was a travesty of a scoreline then but a great result at the end.”
Liverpool levelled within 11 minutes of falling two goals behind but Ferguson felt the visitors were lucky to get a foothold back in the game.
“Liverpool didn’t offer anything and depended on decisions from the linesman to get back in the game,” he added.
“Edwin van der Sar had no saves to make, Paul Scholes controlled the midfield and we looked dangerous up front, with Dimitar and Nani – I couldn’t see us losing the game.”
And while Ferguson was fulsome in his praise of Berbatov, who became the first player to score a hat-trick for United against Liverpool in 64 years, he did concede that United had their own moment of good fortune when the Bulgarian scored with an overhead kick via the underside of the bar to make it 2-0.
“It was unexpected, a surprise attempt. Not many of those go in the net but fortunately it did this time,” stated Ferguson.
“There was a lot of criticism of Berbatov last season from the media – it happens when we buy someone for a lot of money, that’s the way of the world.
“But this season he has started off in the right fashion. He was good in pre-season and on tour and has carried it on. There has never been any doubt about the quality of the man.”
Berbatov, who has now scored seven goals this season, enthused: “It was probably my best day in a United shirt.
“I am happy. I am going home with a smile on my face but I am nothing special. I am going home to play with my kids.”
For Liverpool, meanwhile, manager Roy Hodgson was left to reflect on a defeat that left his side languishing in 16th place in the table, having endured their worst start to a Premier League season, with only five points from as many games.
“I thought our second-half performance was good and we deserved to get back in the game,” said Hodgson.
“I think we were a bit unlucky to go two down when we did – and of course to concede late on was tough.
“We’re disappointed but otherwise I thought we made a really good effort in the second half to get back in the game.
“Had we had a little bit more composure at the end maybe we’d have seen the game out.
“In the first half I don’t think the front players received that many balls they could deal with, more because of good defending than anything else. But then the game opened up and there was more excitement for the fans in the second half.”
Fernando Torres won both the penalty and free-kick, which Gerrard scored from, and Hodgson added: “Fernando is still a player who needs more games, time and training but we’ll get a lot of tremendous use out of him for the rest of the season.”
Gerrard echoed Hodgson’s comments, claiming Liverpool did not deserve to lose.
“When you recover a two-goal deficit at Old Trafford you feel really good and you fancy yourself to hang on in there and get a fantastic point,” said the Reds captain.
“But Berbatov completed his hat-trick – he was the difference and his second goal was world-class.
“We’re disappointed with the result but really pleased with how we played and disappointed to go away within nothing.”
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