Manchester United steamrollered Bolton in their would-be fortress Reebok Stadium with a magnificent performance orchestrated by hat-trick hero Wayne Rooney. The Reds’ have produced their finest display since the Fulham game and have every reason to be confident ahead of the games against Copenhagen and Portsmouth.
In the opening 20 minutes, United were at their majestic best in the Reebok. The Reds’ could have finished off Bolton just as they did with Fulham on the opening day, but wasting glorious chances and some terrific saves by Jaaskalainen allowed no more than two goals. First, it was Giggs who jinked his way through Bolton’s defence, then fired just wide. Then the 33-year-old released Evra on the left, whose shot was blocked by the advancing Jaaskalainen. United dominated and Giggs was in action again: his measured low cross went across the goal as Rooney and Ronaldo failed to make contact. Saha tried an audacious chip and Faye had to be on alert to clear it from the line.
It seemed United would rip apart Bolton and the goal you could see was coming arrived after 10 minutes when Carrick’s fine long ball was controlled perfectly by Rooney and his left-foot shot beat Jaaskalainen and hit the back of the net.
Six minutes later United doubled their advantage when the ball was deflected to Rooney who fired home from 18 yards.
The Red Devils’ eased off a bit and we had to wait for the 30th minute when Saha’s deflected shot just went over the bar. Bolton also had a chance: Faye headed over following a corner. But United had the last word when Giggs got through Meite and tried to find the far corner just to be denied by Jaaskalainen.
The second half was a bit boring to be honest. United eased off, Bolton struggled to create chances as their attacking play lacked any kind of imagination. The first real chance of the second 45 minutes came in the 73th minute when Saha was released in the middle but hit the ball straight at Jaaskalainen with the keeper at his mercy. Then on the other end Edwin van der Sar had to be at his best to save Ivan Campo’s shot on the turn with his legs.
It seemed Bolton could not score if they played until tomorrow and the game’s third goal was produced by the visitors again when Carrick found Saha with yet another magnificent ball and the Frenchman unselfishly set up Ronaldo who found the empty net.
It was all over for Bolton but not for United who had some loose ends to tie up: Rooney had to complete his first Premiership hat-trick and he duly did after Campo gave the ball to Fletcher and the Scot’s fine ball found Rooney who beat Jaaskalainen again and finished a memorable afternoon for himself and United in style.
Van der Sar 6
Made a fine save midway through the second half. He was his usual commanding self.
Had some good runs but on the whole, his attacking play could be better. Few defensive duties.
He was solid, hard, reliable throughout.
Arguably his best performance so far though Bolton’s lacklustre attacks were too easy for our defenders.
He impressed me again. Worked well with Giggs on the left and Davies had no space on Bolton’s right.
Threatening as ever, scored with an easy tap-in.
Now he really managed to show us why Fergie paid such a price for. Two fantastic balls for Rooney and Saha, and a very confident performance.
Ginger Prince is still in fine form, he very rarely conceded possession and his composure was there again.
Giggsy’s running caused huge problems for the Bolton defence. Shame he could not score though this fact is a credit to Jaaskalainen.
A bit quiet but had chances and claimed an assist when he unselfishly passed to Ronaldo following Carrick’s fine ball.
Goal drought? Slump? Crisis? Lost his touch and his enthusiasm? Media spotlight swallowed him? You decide.
Replaced Evra and did well after completing 120 minutes on Wednesday.
No real impact except he managed to get himself booked almost immediately.
Yes, I Was Brilliant
He got a few minutes only but had a great assist, setting up Rooney’s third.
Sir Alex Ferguson was in a superb mood following this superb victory and the gaffer praised his team and particularly Rooney unreservedly.
I thought the first 25 minutes in terms of our penetration and the chances we created was our best performance for two or three years,” Fergie declared “I’m sure no-one else will come here and get that kind of result. Bolton have got such a good home record it’s difficult to even win here so I’m delighted.
“Wayne was terrific. Sooner or later it was going to happen,” added the United boss in reference to Rooney’s run of games without a goal. “We’re just delighted it’s happened now.
“I told him before the game to go out and enjoy it and keep looking for chances. When he got his first goal he just relaxed and got more confident and I was hoping every ball would land to him after that!
“His second was a great side-footer into the corner but for me the third goal was a great goal. As the ball was hit through he killed the pace of it with one touch which set him up so he could get a good look at the goalkeeper. It was an excellent finish.”
A Good Lesson
Sam Allardyce admitted that the best team won on the day.
We had a good lesson today, particularly in the first 20 minutes,” the Bolton manager said. “In fairness to our lads, life during that time would have been difficult for any team.
“I don’t have any complaints about us coming in 2-0 down at half-time. I thought our lads tried their best to live with it but couldn’t. They were two magnificent goals.”
“In the end we had a spirited go in the second half and tried to put them under as much pressure as we possibly could and had a few limited opportunities.
“Unfortunately for us we never converted any into a goal and then we made two dreadful mistakes towards the end.”
Yes, I Was Brilliant
Wayne Rooney was understandably delighted after his hat-trick which ended his 8-game sequence without scoring and his joy was increased by the team’s wonderful performance.
It was brilliant,” he told MUTV. “There’s been a lot of talk by a lot of people over the last few weeks, with people asking if I can do it any more and stuff like that.
“I’m just really pleased to be back amongst the goals and playing well again. Although I’m not really too worried about not scoring as long as we get the result, it’s always nice to score, especially after such a long time.”
We’re very proud and happy with the performance,” he said. “I think the first 20 minutes was probably the best we’ve played as a team all season. We opened Bolton up, got in behind them and made a lot of chances.
“We know Bolton are a difficult team to play against and we wanted to try and get a goal in the first half and hold onto it. We did that and managed to get a few more too.”