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Last Updated: Saturday, 31 December 2005, 16:55 GMT
Man Utd 4-1 Bolton
Wayne Rooney celebrates with Louis Saha
Sir Alex Ferguson enjoyed a stress-free 64th birthday as Manchester United brushed aside Bolton at Old Trafford.

His side were rewarded for a blistering start when Bruno N'Gotty put Kieran Richardson's cross into his own net.

Bolton equalised through Gary Speed's header but United were back in front at half-time after Louis Saha slotted in.

United made it 3-1 when the outstanding Wayne Rooney set up Cristiano Ronaldo to tap home and the Portuguese winger wrapped up the win after a mazy run.

Rooney later left the pitch to a standing ovation after yet another magnificent display, which meant the rested Ruud van Nistelrooy was hardly missed.

United were in charge from the kick-off and got the goal their early pressure deserved when N'Gotty deflected in Richardson's cross, with Saha waiting to pounce.

They should have had more from an impressive first-half display.

Rooney shrugged off two defenders but blazed his shot over, then flicked just wide before finally sending a stinging low shot straight at Jussi Jaaskelainen.

A second goal seemed inevitable - but it was Bolton who scored it, completely against the run of play.

Jay-Jay Okocha launched a trademark long throw into the penalty area, causing panic in the United defence.

Abdoulaye Faye leapt highest to set up 36-year-old Speed for his third goal of the season.

Shell-shocked they might have been, but United were immediately back on the attack.

Jaaskelainen had to be out quickly to smother an attempted Saha shot and Ronaldo was desperately unlucky to see his thunderous volley come back off the post.

But Saha ensured United took a deserved lead in at half-time when he ran onto Tal Ben Haim's wayward back header and pushed a shot home from a tight angle - despite the attempts of the unfortunate N'Gotty to clear.

United remained in charge in the second half.

Ronaldo once again hit the post after a surging run through the middle but it was third time lucky when the Portuguese winger tapped in on 68 minutes after more brilliant work from Rooney.

And Ronaldo wrapped up an emphatic win for United with a smart left-foot finish after some trademark tricks left the Bolton defence flailing.

  • Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson:
    "It was an excellent performance. On my 50th birthday, we lost 4-1 to QPR so that was definitely a tonic today.

    "Bolton are the type of side if you sit back at all they'll give you massive problems and they did that at times.

    "But it was a great attack-minded performance by us."

  • Bolton boss Sam Allardyce:
    "I saw the defeat coming in the first half.

    "To beat United, you have to be at your very best, you have to have a bit of luck and even then you might not win. Today we were never at our best.

    "Right from the start we weren't doing the correct things defensively. They took full advantage of that and deservedly so."

    Man Utd: Van der Sar, Neville, Ferdinand, Silvestre, Richardson, Ronaldo, Fletcher (Pique 86), O'Shea, Giggs, Saha (van Nistelrooy 73), Rooney (Park 79).
    Subs Not Used: Howard, Bardsley.

    Booked: Richardson, Ronaldo.

    Goals: N'Gotty 8 og, Saha 44, Ronaldo 68, 90.

    Bolton: Jaaskelainen, O'Brien, Ben Haim (Vaz Te 45), N'Gotty, Gardner, Giannakopoulos (Fadiga 76), Okocha, Faye, Nolan, Speed, Davies.
    Subs Not Used: Walker, Jaidi, Nakata.

    Booked: Faye, Gardner, Vaz Te, Nolan, Davies.

    Goals: Speed 33.

    Att: 67,858 Ref: S Bennett (Kent).

    Interview: Manchester United assistant boss Carlos Queiroz

    Interview: Bolton boss Sam Allardyce


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