Saturday, 27 September 2008

Manchester United 2 - 0 Bolton Wanderers

First league goals of the season for both Cristiano Ronaldo and substitute Wayne Rooney gave Manchester United their first home league win of the season.

In a curious but goalless first half, Bolton started and finished the stronger - sandwiching a 20 minute spell where they were camped inside their own half. For all the possession of the ball they had (81% in the first half), United couldn't find the net - plenty of speculative efforts were attempted - around a dozen - but a header from Berbatov, a drive from Anderson, a shot from Ferdinand and a freekick by Ronaldo were all saved by Bolton keeper Jaaskaleinen, and a Park rebound from a Tevez drive could only find the side of the net. And it was Bolton who had the best chance of the opening half when Muamba somehow fired a late shot wide.

Wanderers started the second half with the same kind of purpose and went close again, before United hit back with Ronaldo hitting the post from 15 yards.

In the 58th minute referee Rob Styles had a 3 minute spell of madness. Firstly, after waving play on after a foul by Tevez, Bolton decided not to - Styles allowed them to go back and take the free kick. Then, seconds later, Ronaldo broke with the ball in the box, and was challenged by J'Lloyd Samuel. It was a fantastic challenge, but Styles gave a penalty - despite the lack of appeal by Unirted players. No blame could be attached to the often criticised Ronaldo, and the Portguese winger accepted the gift of a goal to break the deadlock.

The penalty was fortunate in more ways than one - despite dominating the game the home side seemed to have two problems - penetration and delivery of dead balls. The first problem was sorted on around 70 minutes, when Wayne Rooney and Paul Scholes took to the field, and instantly United looked more purposeful in the attacking third, especially Rooney, who was superb in his cameo.

It took Rooney just 6 minutes to score, combining well with a 1-2 with Ronaldo before beautifully curling into the corner. The striker then set about trying to get a goal for Dimitar Berbatov but wasn't successful - the introduction of Nani for Ronaldo saw Nani go for goal whenever possible, disrupting some magnificent football in the last 20 minutes.

Ratings : van der Sar 7, Neville 7, Ferdinand 8, Vidic 7, Evra 8, Ronaldo 8 (Nani 7), Anderson 7 (Scholes 8), Fletcher 7, Park 6, Tevez 7 (Rooney 8*), Berbatov 7

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