Full-time report: Bolton v Manchester United

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Full-time report: Bolton v Manchester United
Bolton 2 Manchester United 2
Manchester United were denied the chance to close the gap on leaders Chelsea by Bolton Wanderers after a thoroughly entertaining 2-2 draw at the Reebok Stadium.
Zat Knight gave the hosts an early lead with a clever flick-on in the fifth minute, but Nani brought the visitors level with a stunning solo goal mid-way through the first-half. Martin Petrov then put Bolton ahead again in the second-half, before United's forgotten man Michael Owen headed in to salvage a vital point for the Red Devils.
It was a frantic start at the Reebok Stadium and both teams had chances to score early. But it was Knight who duly obliged. The Bolton defender comfortably beat Jonny Evans from a corner and flicked a shot goalwards. Patrice Evra wasn't tight enough to the far post and the ball sailed into the corner of the net to hand Owen Coyle's men a surprise 1-0 lead.
The hosts had further chances to double their advantage through Johan Elmander and Sam Ricketts, but Edwin van der Sar was equal to their first-half efforts. Bolton goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen, making his first appearance after being sent-off against Birmingham City last month, was also busy at his end and denied Darren Fletcher from levelling the score.
However, he was powerless to prevent Nani's stunning solo effort. The Portuguese picked up the ball on the half-way line, accelerated towards the Bolton back four, beat three of them and then planted a rasping drive into the bottom corner of the hosts' net. It was a superb solo goal from the on-form winger – reminiscent of former Manchester United hero Cristiano Ronaldo.
Lunchtime kick-offs have earned a reputation for often being slow, dour affairs, but this enthralling Premier League encounter was anything but.
The two sides went into the interval level-pegging, which was probably a fair reflection of the first-half's action.
Former Manchester City winger, Petrov, had the first shot of the second-half minutes after the break, but his optimistic shot from 25-yards flew over the top of Van der Sar's goal on this occasion.
In a bid to freshen things up, Sir Alex Ferguson then sent on winger Park Ji-Sung for Giggs, who pulled up slightly after tweaking a hamstring.
The tenacious South Korea international was subbed on in a bid to provide some added attacking thrust, and he was soon joined by fellow substitute Federico Macheda, who was sent on in place of the out-of-sorts Rooney, as United went in search of a second goal.
It was a bold move from Ferguson to withdraw his star striker, but the England international had looked far from his best again this afternoon.
Ferguson's decision to bring off Rooney suddenly appeared rather premature when, with 25 minutes of the match remaining, Petrov put the hosts into the lead for the second time in the match.
Elmander's lay-off on the edge of the box found the Bulgarian winger inside the left of the penalty area. He cut inside Park and then unleashed a rare right-footed strike, which took a wicked deflection off Fletcher and crashed into the back of the United net.
The United manager was left perplexed, and he responded by using his third and final substitute. Michael Owen grabbed a brace against Scunthorpe in Wednesday's 5-1 Carling Cup victory, and the striker replaced Fletcher as United went in search of another equaliser.
Owen didn't disappoint. The 30-year-old flicked on a whipped-in free-kick from the match's outstanding player, Nani, and his header looped into the far corner of the net to bring United level once again.
The Red Devils' second goal came just moments after Elmander had spurned a glorious opportunity to make it 3-1 to Bolton. It was beginning to look like a costly miss from the revitalised Swede, as United pressed for a winner.
However, no further goals were scored, and the two sides were left with a point each once referee Phil Dowd blew for full-time, to bring an end to a breathtaking Sunday lunchtime clash.




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