United resumed their Premier League campaign after the seemingly endless international break with a trip to the Reebok Stadium to face Bolton Wanderers. The reds were looking to maintain their 100% start to the season, and with title rivals Manchester City and Chelsea both winning earlier in the day, United knew that only 3 points would suffice to send them back to the top of the table. Bolton had endured a relatively mixed start to the season, succumbing to two straight defeats after their opening day demolition of QPR, and with a dire record against United since their promotion to the top flight, the omens seemed good for another successful trip to Bolton for Fergie’s side.
United welcomed back striker Javier Hernandez for his first start of the season in place of the injured Danny Welbeck, with the Mexican looking to rekindle his blistering strike partnership with Wayne Rooney. Some bright opening exchanges were over shadowed when merely 4 minutes into the game, Bolton striker Kevin Davies ended Tom Cleverley’s involvement with a late reckless challenge from behind, an injury which could see the young England midfielder ruled out for 3 months. United however got their vengeance seconds later, as Nani’s sublime cross was met by Hernandez, who’s movement totally bewildered Gary Cahill, and the Mexican made no mistake in giving United an early nerve settling lead. Bolton almost hit back immediately through United old boy Chris Eagles, only for the outstretched boot of none other than Wayne Rooney to clear off the line and give United a warning which they duly heeded.
It appeared Bolton were intent on trying to unsettle the young United side with some over zealous tackling, firstly Davies again who was booked for a cynical lunge on Evra, and Mark Davies for a late foul on Nani who was breaking away. United however were not phased, and doubled their lead on the 20 minute mark as Rooney latched onto an inch perfect Phil Jones cross to stab the ball home and all but put United out of sight. With Bolton’s spirit seemingly broken, United added a 3rd merely minutes later, as once again the magnificent Phil Jones carved open the Bolton defence with a mazy run, and his shot could only be parried by Jaaskaleinen to Rooney who made no mistake about notching his second of the afternoon. Having put 8 past Arsenal the previous week, a similar score line seemed on the cards as United looked dangerous with every attack, and the much scrutinised David De Gea was having one of the quietest afternoons he’s likely to have in a red shirt. Half time would have come as a big relief to Bolton, who were staring down the barrel of a very heavy defeat if United could muster the same level of performance in the second half.
It was clear that Owen Coyle had delivered a harsh team talk at half time, as Bolton came out and enjoyed their best spell of the game, stringing together a few set piece situations and finally testing David De Gea albeit fairly tamely. It was United however who still looked the most potent in the final 3rd, and a 4th goal arrived on the hour mark, as Nani darted into the penalty area before seemingly being fouled, only for any penalty grievances to be swept aside as Hernandez latched onto Michael Carricks mis timed shot and steered home a much deserved second goal. Despite safely being back at the top of the table, United weren’t finished quite yet, and Rooney completed the route and his second consecutive hat trick with the pick of the goals, as Nani found him in the space on the edge of the area, the England striker swept home with consummate ease past a static Jaaskaleinen to score United’s 13th goal in just 2 games. The reds eased down through the gears in the closing stages with little alarm, as Giggs and Park entered the fray adding gloss to what was another fine victory and performance for United, who now travel to Lisbon for the opening game of their Champions League campaign.
De Gea – 6 Very little to do, what he had to do did well.
Jones – 8 Marauding runs, quality delivery from the right, two assists. Superb performance.
Ferdinand – 7 Looked very sharp after returning from injury.
Evans – 7 Dealt with Davies threat with ease.
Evra – 7 Solid performance, looks to be regaining form.
Nani – 7 Gave Robinson a torrid time throughout, constant threat.
Cleverley – Subbed off after 5 minutes with injury.
Anderson – 7 Finally fulfilling his potential and dominating games.
Young – 6 Quiet game, looked to be slightly fatigued after England duty.
Rooney – 9 Another hat trick, another sensational performance.
Hernandez – 8 Pace and movement far too much for Bolton. Looked back to his best.
Carrick – 7 Filled in for Cleverley superbly.
Giggs – 6 Quality range of passing.
Park – 6 Looked dangerous when he came on.