|1||Van der Sar|
Paul Scholes reached a century of Premier League goals and fired United to the top of the table as the Reds battled to a 1-0 victory over Wolves at Molineux.
Shorn of the services of the injured Wayne Rooney, Sir Alex’s men struggled to hit top gear against a Wolves side fighting for their top-flight status. But United have a fourth consecutive title to play for and the Reds knew a victory was a must and Scholes ensured United left with exactly what they came for when he slotted home with 18 minutes remaining on the clock.
United paid the price for Rooney’s midweek exertions for England as the striker was forced to sit out the visit to Molineux and rest his injured knee. The Reds were, however, boosted by the return from suspension of Nani and from injury of Rio Ferdinand who partnered Nemanja Vidic at the heart of the defence for the first time since October. Dimitar Berbatov took up the lone striking role with Nani and Antonio Valencia on hand to offer support down the wings. Wolves, meanwhile, who were fined £25,000 for fielding a weakened side at Old Trafford in December, kept an unchanged side for the fourth straight match.
The game got off to a scrappy start with Wolves focused on keeping things tight and United taking time to adjust to life without their main frontman. Seven minutes after Valencia had fired a powerful drive just wide of the near post, the Reds had a decent shout for a spot-kick on 15 minutes, but referee Peter Walton saw nothing wrong with Karl Henry holding back Darron Gibson as he attempted to make the most of Nani’s blocked free-kick which had dropped into his path. In the end, the Irish midfielder prodded the ball wide under pressure from Henry.
Gibson had another sight of goal soon after being picked out by Berbatov’s right-wing cross following a good break forward. But the midfielder's volleyed effort was into the ground which took the sting out of the shot and allowed Marcus Hahnemann to claim easily.