Dimitar Berbatov struck a first-half hat-trick as Bulgaria completed a disappointing FIFA World Cup™ qualification campaign amid a flood of goals against Georgia in Sofia.
Berbatov provided the warmth on a chilly night in the Bulgarian capital as the few fans who turned up to give their support at the Vasil Levski national stadium were rewarded with seven first-half goals. Berbatov got the ball rolling after just six minutes as the hosts raced into a 4-0 lead after 35 minutes with further goals from Martin Petrov and Stanislav Angelov.
The Manchester United striker completed his hat-trick after just 38 minutes and when Petrov netted his second, after Vladimir Dvalishvili pulled one back, just before half-time the hosts were 6-1 up. A Levan Kobiashvili penalty was the only goal of the second half with the visitors also having Levan Khmaladze sent off for a second bookable offence.
Bulgaria began the night knowing they would finish third in Group 8, but despite the match being a dead rubber they looked intent on finishing a poor campaign on a high. Berbatov netted following a quick counter-attack after six minutes before two dreadful mistakes from Georgia goalkeeper Giorgi Lomaia put Bulgaria 3-0 ahead.
First Lomaia tried to intercept a pass but missed his clearance to allow Petrov to score into an open goal. He then miscued a goal-kick directly to the feet of Berbatov who capitalised on the mistake with his second. Angelov made it 4-0 when he was given space to shoot inside the area, although the Bulgarian dominance was at least broken when a quick Georgian breakaway ended with Levan Kenia setting up Dvalishvili to score.
A minute later, however, Berbatov had his hat-trick when Blagoy Georgiev chested a ball down into his path on the edge of the penalty area. Petrov completed a stunning opening period a minute before the interval when Dimitar Rangelov's clever through-ball allowed him the chance to power home.
The second half also started with a quick goal, when Plamen Nikolov needlessly fouled Kenia and allowed Kobiashvili to score from the penalty spot. Four minutes, later the visitors were down to 10 men when Khmaladze picked up a second yellow card and was dismissed - and that was the last incident of note in an action-packed match.