PREMIER LEAGUE: Berbatov hat-trick as Man Utd put five past ten-man Wigan
Wigan's task was made much more difficult when centre-forward Conor Sammon was questionably sent off late in the first half for an alleged elbow on Michael Carrick but nonetheless, Sir Alex Ferguson's men sent a warning to title rivals City with their fifth league win in a row which extends their unbeaten run to nine.
It took less than eight minutes for United to take the lead and it came in barnstorming fashion when Patrice Evra made a strong run into the area before cutting back for an unmarked Park Ji-sung who opened the inside of his right foot and placed it perfectly past Ali Al Habsi.
The second came a couple of minutes after Sammon was sent off when Ryan Giggs found Berbatov from the right with the United striker controlling it with his back to goal after the ball had bobbled up and stroked it into the back of the net with consummate ease.
Berbatov made it 3-0 in the 58th minute when he received a ball from Valencia before spinning off his marker and firing into the roof of Al Habsi's net prior the fourth which came for the home side when Carrick played a one-time pass to Valencia on the right side of the area and the ex-Wigan man hammered his shot across Al Habsi to make it 4-0 in the 75th minute.
Two minutes later, United had a fifth when Berbatov completed his hat-trick with a calm finish from the penalty area after Antolin Alcaraz brought down Park right on the edge of the area with the Bulgarian doubling his entire tally for the season to put the Red Devils even on points and just five goals behind City who were held to a scoreless draw by West Bromwich Albion.
TRIBAL ASKS: Should Man Utd be title favourites now they have bridged the gap with City? Do they have the experience and know-how to continue this form until the end of the season?
Old Trafford, Manchester - 75,183
Red card:WIG - Conor Sammon 39'