Bolton 2 United 2
Honours even at the Reebok Stadium!
Sir Alex took his side to the Reebok Stadium determined to capitalise on a weekend that had seen two of our closest rivals surprisingly lose.
As expected the starting eleven was much different to that which had been selected in the 5-2 romp at Glandford Park with Sir Alex opting for:-
Team: Van der Sar, O'Shea, Vidic, Jonathan Evans, Evra, Nani, Fletcher, Scholes, Giggs, Rooney, Berbatov.
Subs: Kuszczak, Owen, Anderson, Smalling, Park, Rafael Da Silva, Macheda.
The first half saw United start brightly, a sweeping move involving Rooney saw Berbatov optimistically try his luck from distance without success and hen a dangerous cross from Giggs was cleared with Rooney and Berbatov lurking.
But with five minutes played, United fell behind. Chung-Yong Lee saw his shot deflected behind, for a corner, and when Zat Knight beat Evans to the resulting cross Van der Sar could do little to keep the ball out of the net.
Bolton 1-0 Man Utd (Knight- 6 mins)
United could have responded straight away but Giggs drove his shot straight at Jaaskelainen. Fletcher then brought another save out of the keeper after latching onto a great ball from Berbatov.
Bolton though were proving to be plucky opposition and only a fine save from Van der Sar prevented the home side from doubling their lead when the keeper when Holden delivered a free kick that Elmander looked like tucking away.
Van der Sar was then forced to produce another save when O`Shea lost possession and Ricketts shot was on target. But with twenty-odd minutes played, United pulled level courtesy of their Portuguese star, Nani, and what a gem of a goal it was.
Nani collected the ball near the half way line, he heat three players before drilling a low shot past the keeper and into the bottom corner of the goal.
Bolton 1-1 Man Utd (Nani- 23 mins)
Undeterred by United`s equaliser, Bolton continued to push forward down the flanks with Petrov and Lee seeing a lot of the ball. As the half hour mark was passed, United were starting to force Bolton back but the final ball was lacking and the home defence looked at ease.
United continued to try and force the issue and Knight did extremely well to cut out a cross, from Nani that was heading towards Rooney. Bolton were then relieved when a Rooney shot fizzed wide. As half time approached it was all United. With one minute of added time announced and there was no further score although Vidic did come close with a header from a corner!
Half Time - Bolton 1 Manchester United 1
Neither side made any changes at half time and it was United that started on the attack with Rooney just failing to get a decent contact on an Evra cross. Petrov, given time on the ball, fired over form twenty-five yards. United were forced into an early change when Giggs appeared to pick up a hamstring injury and Park entered the fray.
Evra, pushing forward, delivered a decent ball into the box but the home defence somehow scrambled it away. With Bolton coping with everything United were throwing their way, Sir Alex shuffled the pack withdrawing Rooney and introducing Macheda.
Berbatov forced a save from Jaaskelainen after exchanging passes with Macheda. Still United were thwarted with the home defence dealing with some dangerous looking crosses that were being put into the box.
More worryingly, the home side snatched a goal and all credit to them. The home side broke, after a United corner, with devastating effect. Lee fed Elmander who fed Petrov who cut inside and saw his shot, although deflected off of Fletcher, beat Van der Sar at his near post.
Bolton 2-1 Man Utd (Petrov - 67 mins)
With twenty minutes to go Sir Alex made another change bringing on Owen for Fletcher, to try and rescue the game. The striker, who netted twice in midweek, made an instant impact bringing United level just moments after Elmander missed a great opportunity to make it 3-1 to the home side. Nani bent in a free kick and Owen glanced a header in via the far post.
Bolton 2-2 Man Utd (Owen - 74 mins)
The game continued to be entertaining with both sides going for the win although Scholes picked up a yellow card for a poor challenge on Kevin Davies, but United were looking for the win and Nani was unlucky when he saw a shot go agonisingly wide.
Mark Davies then received a yellow card for a foul on Park before Scholes unleashed a shot that flew over the bar. Vidic became the third recipient of a yellow card for scything down Elmander. As time begin to run out, Elmander hit a shock that wet just wide after latching on to a pass from Kevin Davies.
A poor tackle from Scholes gave Petrov a chance from a free kick, some twenty-five yards out but he couldn`t hit the target with the ball drifting past the post. Bolton, pushing for the winner, saw Park clear a dangerous looking Holden shot.
With three minutes of added time announced Bolton looked to be running the clock down making two substitutions content with the point they had. United had one last chance when Nani took a free kick some thirty yards out but it came to nothing.
Vital Man United on:
Vital Man United on: