Manchester United 2-1 Bolton Wanderers: First Goal For Antonio Valencia Sends United Top
Manchester United dominated and deservedly won 2-1 against Bolton Wanderers, despite a late rally from the opposition, to move into pole position in the Premier League.
The goals came in the form of an own-goal by Zat Knight, followed by Antonio Valencia scoring his first goal in a red jersey. Matthew Taylor pulled one back, but it proved to be fruitless as it did not serve to help his side secure a point at Old Trafford.
Edwin van der Sar made his first start of the campaign following an injury sustained during pre-season, while Michael Owen came in for Wayne Rooney, who missed the game owing to a calf strain.
The visitors came into this game on an unbeaten run of five games, and chose to have Kevin Davies play alone up front.
The match began with the hosts attacking from the moment the referee got things under way, and the Trotters’ defence had some frantic moments before tragedy struck. A weak header by Michael Owen saw the ball take a rebound from Knight and slowly roll into the net. The defender could have, should have, but crucially, did not react quick enough.
Jonny Evans almost scored from a Ryan Giggs delivery, but Jussi Jaaskelainen produced a good save. A couple of the red shirts claimed that the ball had crossed the line, but the man in charge made the right decision by waving away the appeals.
After ten minutes of bombardment against the Bolton goal, the game comparatively slowed down a little as the visitors began to get into the game.
Around the 15 minute mark, Matthew Taylor found Kevin Davies, who managed to miss an easy scoring opportunity due to a mistimed shot. The striker would go on to rue the miss, as Sir Alex Ferguson’s men doubled their lead a little while later.
A good combination between Gary Neville and Valencia led to the Ecuador international smashing home a well struck shot that found its way into the bottom corner.
Ferguson would have had an easy time during the half-time break, as his side had done well to dominate the game with minimum fuss.
Upon the resumption of play, the Red Devils picked up where they left off and continued to threaten the opponents’ goal in an attempt to put the game to rest. Valencia combined well with Berbatov on more than one occasion, producing some good football but Gary Megson’s men appeared to have got their act together, as they managed to clear the ball on the most part without too many problems. When called upon, Jaaskelainen did well to thwart anything that came his way.
With just about 15 minutes to go, Bolton scored against the run of play after Taylorsuperbly headed in from six-yards. Suddenly there was a ray of hope for Megson’s men in a game where they had clearly been second best until then.
The white jerseys threw themselves forward in the hope of salvaging a point from the encounter, and it was United who were made to go on the back foot in order to defend wave after wave of the Wanderers’ attacks.
The defence eventually held firm and made sure that the goalkeeper was left relatively untroubled, and the home side managed to walk away with all three points on the day. Owing to the second consecutive away defeat for Chelsea at the hands of Aston Villa, the Red Devils move to the summit of the league table.