|1||Van der Sar|
United reclaimed pole position in powerful style on Saturday evening, routing Bolton at the Reebok in response to Chelsea’s earlier slaughter of Aston Villa.
After a Jloyd Samuel own goal gifted the Reds a half-time lead, Dimitar Berbatov made certain of three big points with his first league brace for United. Darron Gibson then added a late fourth goal after coming on as a substitute.
The margin of victory was no more than the United players deserved for sticking to their creative guns in the face of a physical challenge from Bolton, who tested the excellent Nemanja Vidic and co with a ceaseless bombardment from the skies.
When the champions were able to get the ball down and under control, the likes of Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs pulled the strings while Nani and Antonio Valencia stretched the play to the opposite flanks.
Darren Fletcher was also heavily involved, almost creating the opener with a similar cross to his assist against Liverpool – only this time it yielded not a header from Park, but a wonderful volley by Berbatov, well saved by Jussi Jaaskelainen. Fletcher laid the ball off to Jonny Evans when the ensuing corner wasn’t cleared but the Irishman, in for Rio Ferdinand, couldn’t keep his shot down and Bolton breathed a sigh of relief.
However, the best chance of the first half-hour was for the home side, when Jack Wilshere – on loan from Arsenal – played Elmander into the left-hand channel. The big Swede looked odds-on to score but his powerful shot was beaten away by the strong hand of Edwin van der Sar.
Giggs was revelling in his first start since mid-February and he was unlucky not to hit the target after teeing himself up with an exquisite