Manchester United 1-0 Bolton Wanderers

  • March 19, 2011 | By Chris Mann
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Dimitar Berbatov scored a late winner as ten-man Manchester United beat Bolton at Old Trafford, in a game marred by a what could be a serious injury to Stuart Holden.

Wanderers had a man advantage for the final fifteen minutes after Jonny Evans was shown his marching orders for a two footed lunge on Holden, who left the field on a stretcher nursing a painful looking gash on the side of his knee.

Despite their numerical advantage, Owen Coyle's side failed to find a way through and United won it two minutes from time as Berbatov capitalised on a mistake from Jussi Jaaskelainen to prod the ball over the line.

Bolton started well and should have taken the lead with less than five minutes on the clock. A good move down the right involving Gretar Steinsson and Johan Elmander resulted in the latter picking out Fabrice Muamba in the box, but his touch was too heavy and the ball rolled out of play.

Holden and Martin Petrov both had chances soon after, but neither failed to seriously threaten Edwin van der Sar in the United goal, before the hosts suddenly sprung into life.

First, Wayne Rooney sent a well executed half-volley narrowly wide of the target, before Javier Hernandez saw appeals for a penalty waved away by referee Andre Marriner after his shot appeared to hit Gary Cahill on the arm.

United continued in their pursuit for the opening goal and Hernandez cut across the Bolton defence ten minutes before the break, only to see his shot fly narrowly wide of Jaaskelainen's post from close range, moments before Rooney sent a powerful strike into the Stretford End.

Elmander saw a goalbound volley blocked by Patrice Evra and Muamba saw a shot fly into the stands as the two sides went in goalless at the break.

The second half began much the same way as the first, with neither side creating any serious opportunities on opposition goal. The best of the early action saw Muamba send another shot well wide of the target, before Nani saw shots easily dealt with by the Wanderers backline.

David Wheater saw a header fly wide from a corner just before the hour, moments before Lee Chung-Yong came on to replace the ineffective Daniel Sturridge, who hadn't trained all week due to a virus which has swept through the Bolton training ground.

Bolton would have taken the lead on 63 minutes, only to be denied by a superb block from Michael Carrick as Kevin Davies looked set to tap in after superb work from Elmander.

United broke immediately and would have taken the lead themselves had it not been for the intervention of Cahill, who flung himself at a shot from Rooney to clear the danger.

Berbatov then had a superb chance to break the deadlock with 20 minutes to go. Rooney played the ball to the Bulgarian, who saw his first-time curler fly narrowly wide of the goal with Jaaskelainen beaten.

Then, just a minute later, Berbatov looked to be clean through on goal, only to be denied by a superb last ditch challenge from Cahill, one which he had to get right if he was to stay on the field.

One man who wasn't so lucky was Evans. With fifteen minutes left to play, a 50-50 challenge between Holden and the United defender resulted in the latter being shown a straight red card for an over the top challenge which left the Wanderers midfielder with a deep gash to the side of his knee, requiring him to leave the field on a stretcher and being rushed to hospital.

From the free-kick which followed, Elmander's low effort rolled wide of van der Sar's far post, before Rooney saw a fierce low strike stopped by Jaaskelainen at the other end.

Bolton had a superb chance to win the game with five minutes to go, but Matt Taylor, on for the injured Holden, could only divert a header straight at the United goalkeeper, despite being unmarked eight yards from goal.

That miss was to prove costly for the visitors as United won the game in the closing stages as Berbatov pounced on a fumble from the usually reliable Jaaskelainen.

After comfortably saving a shot from Nani moments earlier, the Portugal international tried his luck again on 88 minutes. The shot hit Jaaskelainen on the forearm before rebounding out to Berbatov, who made no mistake from close range.

Nani saw a cross-cum-shot claimed by Jaaskelainen a minute after the goal and van der Sar had to be alert to prevent a cross going in his goal inside four minutes of stoppage time, but United held on to claim a fortunate victory which moves them five points clear at the top of the Premier League.

Despite suffering defeat for only the second time in nine outings, Bolton remain seventh in the table and return to action in a fortnight when they return to Birmingham City, the scene of their FA Cup triumph just last weekend.

Manchester United: van der Sar, Brown (F da Silva 46), Smalling, Evans, Evra, Valencia, Carrick, Giggs, Nani, Rooney, Hernandez (Berbatov 46)
Subs Not Used: Kuszczak, Owen, Ji-Sung, Gibson, Gill
Sent Off: Evans
Goals: Berbatov 88

Bolton Wanderers: Jaaskelainen, Steinsson, Wheater, Cahill, Robinson, Elmander, Holden (Taylor 78), Muamba (Klasnic 90), Petrov, K Davies, Sturridge (Chung-Yong 60)
Subs Not Used: Bogdan, Rodrigo, Blake, Alonso
Booked: Robinson

Referee: Andre Marriner
Attendance: 75,486

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Sky Bet League One Standings

Pos Team Pld Pts
19 Rochdale 34 36
20 AFC Wimbledon 35 35
21 Tranmere Rovers 34 32
22 Southend United 35 19
23 Bolton Wanderers 34 14
View Full Standings >>


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