Wayne Rooney and Welbeck spearheaded the Reds' attack but it was Nani who had the game’s first chance, blasting wide after barely a minute. Welbeck spurned an opportunity, laid on by a fantastic searching ball by Michael Carrick, shortly afterwards, although did at least draw a save from Bolton stopper Adam Bogdan.
Carrick was in creative mood early on and almost found Welbeck again with a superb lofted pass from deep in the Reds’ half. The no.16, challenged recently by his manager to become “the pivotal player of our team”, certainly made his mark on this fixture.
Bogdan had to be alert to bravely divert a Nani cross after 15 minutes, before Rooney was twice denied by Bolton defenders - Sam Ricketts with a last-ditch block and Mark Roberts with a goal-line clearance from Rooney’s looping header.
Rooney suffered further frustration on 22 minutes when Bogdan flung himself to his right and brilliantly saved the striker’s penalty, awarded after Zat Knight had clumsily tugged Danny Welbeck to the floor. It was Rooney’s second miss from the spot in as many games, although last week’s disappointment immediately turned to joy when the striker nodded home the rebound.
Bogdan’s heroics offered no such second chance, though, and the visitors continued on even footing. Only just, though. They had their Hungarian custodian to thank again shortly afterwards when he dived low to his left to keep out Welbeck’s long-range effort, while Rooney’s radar, usually so reliable, failed him again when he screwed an effort well wide of the target.
Bolton didn’t trouble Anders Lindegaard once in the first half. Indeed, the visitors barely ventured into United territory. But just as it looked as