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Page last updated at 19:30 GMT, Saturday, 27 March 2010

Bolton   0 - 4   Man Utd

Dimitar Berbatov
Dimitar Berbatov celebrates after scoring his second goal

By Les Roopanarine

Dimitar Berbatov scored a second-half brace as Manchester United swept aside Bolton to restore their one-point advantage at the Premier League summit.

Jlloyd Samuel inadvertently handed United the initiative when he turned a Ryan Giggs cross into his own net.

Berbatov stretched the lead, turning in the rebound from a Darren Fletcher shot before flicking in Nani's cross.

Fabrice Muamba had earlier gone close for Bolton, but Nani set up substitute Darron Gibson to seal the win late on.

A point ahead in the title race at the afternoon's outset, United briefly relinquished the lead to Chelsea, who hammered Aston Villa 7-1 at Stamford Bridge, but re-established their slender advantage with a performance of growing authority.

Bolton provided stern opposition in the initial stages, weathering an early United storm and testing Edwin van der Sar's reflexes through Johan Elmander and, notably, Muamba, who drew a flying, fingertip save from the United keeper

But Samuel's own goal - the 11th that has gone in United's favour this season - was a hammer blow, and once Berbatov had tucked home to double the champions' lead in the 69th minute, the spirit slowly ebbed from Owen Coyle's side.

Phelan welcomes Nani's growing influence

More daunting hurdles lie ahead for United, who now travel to Germany for Tuesday's Champions League quarter-final against Bayern Munich before a Premier League summit meeting with Chelsea at Old Trafford next Saturday.

With the home leg against Bayern to follow on Wednesday week, it promises to be a season-defining period for Sir Alex Ferguson's men, and with that in mind the United manager rested both Wayne Rooney and Rio Ferdinand.

Predictably, Rooney was the more missed of the absent duo, a point underlined by United's inability to capitalise on some fine build-up play in the initial stages.

With the evergreen combination of Paul Scholes and Giggs orchestrating the proceedings superbly in midfield, United dominated the opening quarter but, in the absence of the talismanic Rooney, initially seemed to lack a telling presence in the box.

Berbatov, the understudy for United's leading scorer, came close to breaking the deadlock with an audacious hooked effort from a narrow angle, while Jonny Evans should have done better than blast a Fletcher lay-off into the stands from close range.

606: DEBATE
robothetrotter

Yet Bolton's resilience in the face of severe pressure came as no surprise.

For all the talk of Coyle's mission to transform his players from artisans to artists, defensive strength has been the key to the outstanding home form that has guided the club towards safety since the Scot's January appointment.

Prior to United's visit, they had kept four successive clean sheets in league clashes at the Reebok Stadium, in the process taking 10 of a possible 12 points.

But the possibility that they might maintain that impressive record, or that Coyle might mastermind a repeat of his early-season win over United with Burnley, was dashed following Samuel's unfortunate intervention.

Fed by the flamboyant Nani, Giggs centred for Fletcher only for the ball to reach Samuel, who stabbed home across the stranded Jussi Jaaskelainen

United had the lead, but the game remained in the balance, as illustrated by Ferguson's anger when Sam Ricketts, who had earlier felled Patrice Evra with a late challenge, caught Nani with a trailing arm just before the break.

An incandescent Ferguson confronted referee Martin Atkinson at half-time, although he apologised when the teams emerged for the restart.

Scoreline flattered Man Utd - Coyle

If the United manager had calmed down, his mood no doubt improved further when Fletcher drew a sprawling save from Jaaskelainen and Berbatov tucked in the rebound.

It was the cue for United to enter processional mode.

Nani eluded the attentions of Ricketts to centre for Berbatov, who tucked home his 12th goal of the campaign with a nonchalant flick off the outside of his boot.

And when Nani repeated the trick, once again bamboozling Ricketts, Gibson - on as a substitute for Fletcher - made it four.

With Arsenal earlier held to a 1-1 draw at Birmingham, the result leaves United four points clear of the third-placed Gunners and narrowly ahead of Chelsea in their bid to claim an unprecedented fourth successive Premier League crown.


Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson:

"It was a real battle. I said to the referee at half-time it was supposed to be a game of football.

"He handled it the best way he could.

"You need to show composure because the ball is never out of the air, and we needed some fantastic defending at times.

"I don't know how many times Nemanja Vidic headed the ball clear but it must have been thousands."

Bolton manager Owen Coyle:

"I'm disappointed with the defeat and the manner of the defeat late on.

"That's what happens when you play against the best teams. If you switch off and gift them goals as we did you're going to be punished. But for 70 minutes of the game I thought we were terrific.

"There was a lot of things we could have done better. The scoreline flatters Manchester United - no doubt about it. We were the architects of our own downfall."

Live text and stats

 

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Premier League

Home Team Score Away Team Time
Bolton 0-4 Man Utd FT
(HT 0-1)
    • Samuel (og) 38
    • Berbatov 69
    • Berbatov 78
    • Gibson 82

    Bolton

    Substitutes

    Man Utd

    Substitutes

    Ref: AtkinsonAtt: 25,370
    BOLTON
    MAN UTD

    Possession

    • Bolton 46%
    • Man Utd 54%

    Attempts on target

    • Bolton 10
    • Man Utd 8

    Attempts off target

    • Bolton 4
    • Man Utd 5

    Corners

    • Bolton 11
    • Man Utd 6

    Fouls

    • Bolton 14
    • Man Utd 15
    • Final Result
    • Full Time
    • 90:00+3:34 The game is over, as the referee blows his whistle.
    • 90:00+2:01 Corner from the right by-line taken by Luis Nani, Shot from just outside the area by Dimitar Berbatov goes over the bar.
    • 89:31 Fabrice Muamba takes a shot. Comfortable save by Edwin Van der Sar.
    • 88:04 Luis Nani decides to take a short corner. The ball is swung over by Luis Nani, clearance by Ivan Klasnic.
    • 87:43 Matthew Taylor takes a shot. Blocked by Nemanja Vidic.
    • 87:02 Centre by Kevin Davies. Matthew Taylor takes a inswinging corner from the right by-line to the near post, clearance made by Nemanja Vidic.
    • 86:33 Federico Macheda takes a shot. Blocked by Zat Knight.
    • 85:59 Dimitar Berbatov challenges Gary Cahill unfairly and gives away a free kick. Jussi Jaaskelainen restarts play with the free kick.
    • 84:34 Foul by Darron Gibson on Jack Wilshere, free kick awarded. Jack Wilshere crosses the ball in from the free kick. Chung-Yong Lee takes the inswinging corner, free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Nemanja Vidic by Kevin Davies. Edwin Van der Sar takes the indirect free kick.
    • 83:47 Substitution Ryan Giggs leaves the field to be replaced by Federico Macheda.
    • 81:41 Luis Nani provided the assist for the goal.
    • 81:41 GOAL - Darron GibsonBolton 0 - 4 Man Utd Darron Gibson gets on the score sheet with a goal from deep inside the penalty box to the top left corner of the goal. Bolton 0-4 Man Utd.
    • 79:49 Substitution Darron Gibson comes on in place of Darren Fletcher.
    • 79:06 The ball is delivered by Chung-Yong Lee, Gary Neville manages to make a clearance.
    • 77:26 Luis Nani provided the assist for the goal.
    • 77:26 GOAL - Dimitar BerbatovBolton 0 - 3 Man Utd Goal scored by Dimitar Berbatov from close range to the bottom right corner of the goal. Bolton 0-3 Man Utd.
    • 76:40 The referee blows for offside. Indirect free kick taken by Jussi Jaaskelainen.
    • 72:23 Substitution Michael Carrick comes on in place of Paul Scholes.
    • 72:23 Substitution Tamir Cohen leaves the field to be replaced by Matthew Taylor.
    • 72:23 Substitution Johan Elmander leaves the field to be replaced by Ivan Klasnic.
    • 72:23 A cross is delivered by Antonio Valencia.
    • 72:00 Foul by Kevin Davies on Nemanja Vidic, free kick awarded. Direct free kick taken by Paul Scholes.
    • 70:37 Corner taken by Jack Wilshere from the right by-line to the near post, Header from deep inside the area by Johan Elmander goes over the bar.
    • 70:00 The assistant referee flags for offside against Antonio Valencia. Jussi Jaaskelainen takes the free kick.
    • Correction - 68:08 The assist for the goal came from Darren Fletcher.
    • 68:08 Assist by Darren Fletcher.
    • 68:08 GOAL - Dimitar BerbatovBolton 0 - 2 Man Utd Dimitar Berbatov scores a goal from inside the six-yard box to the bottom right corner of the goal. Bolton 0-2 Man Utd.
    • 68:04 Darren Fletcher takes a shot. Save made by Jussi Jaaskelainen.
    • 65:32 Jack Wilshere takes the inswinging corner, clearance by Patrice Evra.
    • 64:49 Foul by Dimitar Berbatov on Gary Cahill, free kick awarded. Jussi Jaaskelainen restarts play with the free kick.
    • 62:01 Johan Elmander takes a shot. Save made by Edwin Van der Sar.
    • 61:07 Chung-Yong Lee delivers the ball, clearance by Dimitar Berbatov.
    • 58:51 Inswinging corner taken by Chung-Yong Lee.
    • 57:05 Tamir Cohen handles the ball and concedes a free kick. Free kick crossed right-footed by Ryan Giggs, clearance by Samuel Ricketts.
    • 55:44 Foul by Antonio Valencia on Jlloyd Samuel, free kick awarded. Free kick crossed right-footed by Chung-Yong Lee, Nemanja Vidic makes a clearance.
    • 54:37 Centre by Antonio Valencia, Samuel Ricketts manages to make a clearance.
    • 54:13 Unfair challenge on Luis Nani by Fabrice Muamba results in a free kick. Gary Neville restarts play with the free kick.
    • 53:20 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Nemanja Vidic by Kevin Davies. Free kick taken by Edwin Van der Sar.
    • 53:06 The ball is crossed by Darren Fletcher, Samuel Ricketts manages to make a clearance.
    • 52:34 Effort from inside the area by Darren Fletcher misses to the right of the target.
    • 50:19 Foul by Gary Cahill on Dimitar Berbatov, free kick awarded. Direct free kick taken by Paul Scholes.
    • 49:12 Foul by Gary Neville on Jack Wilshere, free kick awarded. Jlloyd Samuel restarts play with the free kick.
    • 45:01 The referee gets the second half started.
    • Half Time
    • 45:00+4:19 The referee calls an end to the first half.
    • 45:00+3:25 Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Chung-Yong Lee from the left by-line, Jonathan Evans manages to make a clearance. Corner taken right-footed by Jack Wilshere from the left by-line, Paul Scholes fouled by Kevin Davies, the ref awards a free kick. Indirect free kick taken by Edwin Van der Sar.
    • Correction - 45:00+1:13 Darren Fletcher concedes a free kick for a foul on Tamir Cohen. Jussi Jaaskelainen restarts play with the free kick. Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Kevin Davies by Nemanja Vidic. Kevin Davies takes the direct free kick. Tamir Cohen has an effort at goal from 18 yards. Blocked by Paul Scholes. Fabrice Muamba takes a shot. Blocked by Darren Fletcher.
    • 45:00+1:13 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Tamir Cohen by Darren Fletcher. Free kick taken by Jussi Jaaskelainen. Foul by Nemanja Vidic on Kevin Davies, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Kevin Davies. Drilled right-footed shot by Tamir Cohen. Paul Scholes gets a block in. Johan Elmander takes a shot. Blocked by Darren Fletcher.
    • 45:00+0:10 Luis Nani takes the inswinging corner, clearance by Johan Elmander.
    • 43:44 Luis Nani gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Samuel Ricketts. Free kick crossed by Jack Wilshere, free kick awarded for a foul by Zat Knight on Jonathan Evans. Indirect free kick taken by Edwin Van der Sar.
    • 39:03 Fabrice Muamba takes a shot. Save by Edwin Van der Sar. Corner taken by Chung-Yong Lee.
    • 37:12 Assist on the goal came from Ryan Giggs.
    • 37:12 GOAL - Jlloyd SamuelBolton 0 - 1 Man Utd Jlloyd Samuel scores an own goal. Bolton 0-1 Man Utd.
    • 37:07 Centre by Ryan Giggs.
    • 35:57 Shot by Kevin Davies. Jonathan Evans gets a block in.
    • 35:29 Patrice Evra concedes a free kick for a foul on Chung-Yong Lee. Jussi Jaaskelainen takes the free kick.
    • 34:40 Jonathan Evans delivers the ball, clearance by Zat Knight.
    • 33:49 Luis Nani concedes a free kick for a foul on Samuel Ricketts. Jlloyd Samuel delivers the ball from the free kick right-footed from left channel, Nemanja Vidic makes a clearance.
    • 33:17 Dimitar Berbatov takes a shot. Save made by Jussi Jaaskelainen.
    • 32:42 Gary Neville fouled by Johan Elmander, the ref awards a free kick. Gary Neville restarts play with the free kick.
    • 31:45 Jonathan Evans concedes a free kick for a foul on Kevin Davies. The ball is swung over by Chung-Yong Lee, Header from close in by Gary Cahill misses to the left of the target.
    • 31:07 Ryan Giggs has an effort at goal from outside the area missing to the wide right of the goal.
    • 25:02 Tamir Cohen has an effort at goal from 12 yards. Blocked by Nemanja Vidic. Corner from right by-line taken by Jack Wilshere. Johan Elmander takes a shot. Save by Edwin Van der Sar. Corner taken by Chung-Yong Lee from the left by-line played to the near post.
    • 24:33 Free kick awarded for a foul by Dimitar Berbatov on Zat Knight. Jussi Jaaskelainen takes the indirect free kick.
    • 23:35 Free kick awarded for a foul by Jlloyd Samuel on Gary Neville. Free kick taken by Gary Neville.
    • 22:33 Luis Nani fouled by Chung-Yong Lee, the ref awards a free kick. Ryan Giggs takes the direct free kick.
    • 18:59 Close range shot by Jonathan Evans clears the bar.
    • 17:58 Shot by Dimitar Berbatov. Save made by Jussi Jaaskelainen. Ryan Giggs takes the inswinging corner, Gary Cahill manages to make a clearance. Ryan Giggs takes a inswinging corner from the right by-line played to the near post, clearance by Gary Cahill.
    • 16:17 Corner taken right-footed by Luis Nani, Zat Knight makes a clearance. Effort on goal by Paul Scholes from just outside the area goes harmlessly over the target.
    • 15:48 Johan Elmander takes a shot. Edwin Van der Sar makes a comfortable save.
    • 15:32 A cross is delivered by Patrice Evra, clearance made by Gary Cahill.
    • 14:36 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Johan Elmander by Paul Scholes. Jussi Jaaskelainen takes the free kick.
    • 14:11 Tamir Cohen challenges Dimitar Berbatov unfairly and gives away a free kick. Indirect free kick taken by Paul Scholes.
    • 13:22 Kevin Davies takes a shot. Paul Scholes gets a block in. Corner from right by-line taken by Jack Wilshere.
    • 11:57 Darren Fletcher takes a shot. Blocked by Jlloyd Samuel.
    • 9:27 Free kick awarded for a foul by Fabrice Muamba on Ryan Giggs. Paul Scholes restarts play with the free kick.
    • 8:52 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Gary Neville by Jack Wilshere. Paul Scholes takes the direct free kick.
    • 7:40 The ball is delivered by Luis Nani, clearance by Gary Cahill.
    • 7:30 The ball is crossed by Ryan Giggs.
    • 5:39 Patrice Evra crosses the ball.
    • 5:26 The ball is swung over by Gary Neville, clearance made by Tamir Cohen.
    • 5:12 The ball is delivered by Antonio Valencia.
    • 4:37 The ball is sent over by Gary Neville, save made by Jussi Jaaskelainen.
    • 2:54 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Kevin Davies by Patrice Evra. Free kick crossed by Jack Wilshere, clearance made by Nemanja Vidic.
    • 2:13 Tamir Cohen gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Jonathan Evans. Indirect free kick taken by Gary Neville.
    • 2:06 Johan Elmander delivers the ball.
    • 1:23 Jack Wilshere produces a right-footed shot from just outside the box that misses to the right of the target.
    • 0:33 Kevin Davies fouled by Jonathan Evans, the ref awards a free kick. Jussi Jaaskelainen takes the free kick.
    • 0:00 The referee gets the match started.

    Live text and data provided by The Press Association.



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    Premier League table snapshot

    As it stood on 27 Mar 2010 23:59 UK

    Position Team P GD PTS
    1 Man Utd 32 51 72
    2 Chelsea 32 53 71
    3 Arsenal 32 40 68
    4 Tottenham 31 28 58
    5 Man City 30 16 53
    6 Liverpool 31 18 51
    7 Aston Villa 31 11 51
    8 Everton 32 8 49
    9 Birmingham 32 -4 45
    10 Stoke 31 -5 39
    11 Fulham 31 -3 38
    12 Blackburn 31 -16 38
    13 Sunderland 31 -6 35
    14 Wolves 32 -22 32
    15 Bolton 32 -24 32
    16 Wigan 31 -30 31
    17 West Ham 32 -17 27
    18 Hull 31 -33 27
    19 Burnley 31 -33 24
    20 Portsmouth 32 -32 13

    see also
    Ferguson defends Vidic over clash
    29 Mar 10 |  Bolton
    Saturday's football photos
    27 Mar 10 |  Football
    Saturday football as it happened
    27 Mar 10 |  Football
    Rooney has no injuries - Ferguson
    26 Mar 10 |  Man Utd



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