Berbatov shines as Man Utd beat Celtic
Dimitar Berbatov scored one goal and contributed to two more on Friday as English powerhouse Manchester United launched their North American tour with a 3-1 friendly victory over Celtic.
Substitutes Danny Welbeck and Tom Cleverley also scored for Manchester United, while Georgios Samaras converted a penalty for Scottish Premier League club Celtic. Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson fielded a strong line-up that included Berbatov, Edwin van der Sar, Paul Scholes, Darren Fletcher and Ryan Giggs - who received an especially warm welcome from Canadian fans.
The match was played at the 50,000-seat Rogers Centre, where a temporary grass pitch was installed where the Toronto Argonauts normally play their Canadian Football League gridiron games on a synthetic surface. Berbatov opened the scoring in the 34th minute, deftly controlling a cross from Mame Biram Diouf with his right foot before using his left to bury it in the net.
Celtic equalized in the 61st after Chris Smalling, making his Manchester United debut after a transfer from Fulham in January, was penalised for pulling Joe Ledley to the ground in the area. Samaras, who came on in the second half, converted to level the score.
United responded, and in the 79th minute Berbatov found some room on the right and crossed for Welbeck, who scored from close range. Bulgaria's Berbatov then combined with Cleverley, whose shot in the 86th deflected off a Celtic defender to get past stranded Celtic keeper Lukasz Zaluska.
Manchester United are making their third pre-season trip to North America since Sir Alex Ferguson became manager in 1986. 2010 FIFA World Cup™ players Wayne Rooney, Michael Carrick, Park Ji-Sung and Nemanja Vidic were left at home to recover after playing at South Africa 2010. Ferguson was also without the services of several injured players, including captain Gary Neville, Rio Ferdinand and Owen Hargreaves.
United's next stop is Philadelphia, they will take on the Philadelphia Union on Wednesday. They play the Kansas City Wizards at Arrowhead Stadium on 25 July, and they face the MLS All-Stars in Houston on 28 July before travelling to Guadalajara, Mexico, to play Chivas. Celtic, who opened their North American tour on Wednesday with a 1-0 defeat to the Philadelphia Union, play the Seattle Sounders on Saturday.
"The first game is one you want to get out of the road because fitness comes into it, as does the time you give to your players," said Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson. "I was pleased as some of the performances were good. We try to get the preparation to a point where they want to want to start playing games. There was a little bit of boredom in the training yesterday.
"They had seven days at Carrington, four days in Chicago; they were desperate for a game. The one thing pre-season brings on is the desire to start playing games. No-one likes pre-season. It does not matter how good it is. Nobody enjoys it because it is rough and tough. It is the hard bit of the game. Thankfully we are on that route of playing."
Celtic manager Aaron Lennon said: "It was really pleasing tonight. I thought the level of performance was excellent. There were a number of positives to take out of the game. There was a lot of good football played out there and the players enjoyed the atmosphere and the experience.
"The second goal came probably after our best spell in the game. I was really pleased with the response of the players, particularly in the second half. Samaras made a difference when he came on."