Hitherto, Sir Alex Ferguson had enjoyed good news with injuries after the recent international break, and made only minimal changes to the line-up which started last month's romp against Arsenal. Danny Welbeck, who suffered a hamstring strain against the Gunners, was replaced by Hernandez, while Rio Ferdinand returned at the expense of Chris Smalling and Phil Jones shunted over to right-back.
As had been the case in the Reds' opening three league games, United began in proactive fashion. Indeed, it took the visitors just five minutes to forge ahead. As a United attack built on the right wing, with Rooney releasing Nani, Chicharito outwitted Gary Cahill by shaping to move to the near post, feinting to the back and then sprinted forward just in time to redirect Nani’s centre past the sprawling Jussi Jaaskelainen.
United had actually taken the lead without a full compliment of players. At the time of the goal, Cleverley was receiving treatment for an ankle injury after a poor challenge from Davies. Bolton had their best opening of the half while Cleverley was en route to the dressing room, but Rooney was on hand to hack Chris Eagles’ volley off the line after a goalmouth scramble. Michael Carrick was duly introduced to restore equality in personnel.