Whilst Berbatov was doing the business at one end his defensive colleagues were handing Liverpool an unexpected lifeline at the other.
United were leading 2-0 but allowed two quick second half goals from Steven Gerrard to bring them level, only for Berbatov to spare Sir Alex Ferguson’s blushes with a headed winner six minutes from time.
The Bulgarian had given the host’s a half-time lead and then doubled their advantage with an acrobatic second.
At this stage United looked to be coasting until Gerrard scored from the penalty spot after Jonny Evans had hauled down Fernando Torres.
Liverpool took belief from this goal and moments later a badly organised defensive wall allowed Gerrard to restore parity direct from a free kick.
United rallied and the Bulgarian claimed the match ball when he rose to head home John O’Shea’s cross.
Man Utd scorers: Berbatov 42, 59, 84
Liverpool scorers: Gerrard pen 64, 70
Referee: Howard Webb
Venue: Old Trafford, Manchester
01 Van der Sar
22 O'Shea (yellow card)
23 Evans (yellow card)
11 Giggs (Macheda 82)
17 Nani (Gibson 88)
18 Scholes (yellow card)
09 Berbatov (Anderson 88)
10 Rooney (yellow card)