Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice and skippered United to victory against struggling Bolton Wanderers at Old Trafford on Wednesday night.
Entrusted with the captaincy for the first time, the Reds’ no.7 repaid his manager’s faith by breaking George Best’s record for goals scored in a season from midfield. The win sent United clear at the top of the league, with Liverpool the Reds’ next opponents on Easter Sunday.
Sir Alex made seven changes to the side that won at Pride Park last weekend, with only John O’Shea, Nemanja Vidic, Cristiano Ronaldo and Anderson retaining their spots in the starting XI.
Despite speculation that Ben Foster would continue in goal after his impressive debut, the manager plumped for Tomasz Kuszczak between the sticks (Edwin van der Sar is expected to be fit for Liverpool’s visit on Sunday) and the Pole was magnificent all night.
Owen Hargreaves was handed a starting berth, although the Englishman was deployed on the right side of defence and not in the centre of midfield. That job was given to Anderson and Darren Fletcher, while Carlos Tevez partnered Louis Saha up front.
In the absence of Ryan Giggs and Rio Ferdinand, Ronaldo was given the captain’s armband for the first time in his United career. And, given his amazing record this season, it was hardly surprising the Portuguese international marked the occasion with the game’s opening goal on nine minutes.
Bolton failed to adequately clear Nani’s corner and when the ball fell to the Reds’ no.7 on the penalty spot, he buried the chance on the half volley.
The Reds continued to dominate and Nani went close on 15 minutes when his shot fizzed over the bar. Bolton almost forced an equaliser three minutes later, however, when Kuszczak was called into action to deny Wanderers captain Kevin