Premier League – United move three points clear
Manchester United claimed sole control of the top spot in the Premier League standings with a comfortable 2-0 win over Bolton at Old Trafford.
Cristiano Ronaldo added another two goals to his tally, his 10th brace in United colours, as the defending champions secured a three-point lead over Arsenal at the top of the table, and a further two points clear of Chelsea.
United showed their intent right from the whistle with the returning Louis Saha and Carlos Tevez combining on the edge of the area, forcing Ricardo Gardner into action to turn the ball away for a corner.
Just one minute later though United had the lead they had been threatening to snatch. Nani‘s corner, whipped into the area, was poorly dealt with by the Bolton back four and the ball fell kindly for Ronaldo. The Portugal midfielder did not need a second invitation and fired his volley home from eight yards out.
Bolton, comfortably outplayed for the first 45 minutes, had their best chance of the half shortly after as Kevin Davies connected with a Danny Guthrie cross to force a brilliant save from Tomasz Kuszczak at the far post.
United hit back immediately though with Ronaldo striking yet another outstanding free-kick into the top right-hand corner of the net from 25 yards out after he was brought down by Abdoulaye Meite.
Nemanja Vidic almost added a third for the hosts 10 minutes before the interval as he got a head to another Nani corner before seeing it turned away at the right-hand post by a loitering Guthrie.
United picked up where they left off at the restart, with Nani forcing a brilliant save at the bottom right-hand corner of the net from a free-kick on the edge of the area.
But Bolton seemed to find a second gear after enjoying a period of dominance where they were unlucky not to get themselves on the scoreboard.
El-Hadji Diouf looked to have got Bolton right back into the match when he curled his free-kick past a flailing Kuszczak but the referee had not blown his whistle and the goal was disallowed.
A poor second attempt from Diouf, in exactly the same place as the first, was easily read by the keeper but it revitalised Bolton, who proceeded to dominate for the next 20 minutes.
Ronaldo came close to securing his hat-trick on a number of occasions, with his shot in the 67th minute forcing a great reaction save from Ali Al Habsi.
Nani also enjoyed a number of chances late in the second half but Al Habsi managed to protect his goal with a series of commendable saves to keep the scoreline respectable for Bolton.
Nevertheless, the title is now surely United’s to lose as they entertain both Liverpool and Arsenal at home, while travelling away only to Chelsea.