It was the first time Scholes had played a competitive game at the Theatres of Dreams in over six months although you’d hardly believe he’d been away for that long turning in a virtuoso display that he capped off with a goal. The Red Devil’s veteran was the man to break the Trotters’ resistance in first half stoppage time after Adam Bogdan had earlier saved a Wayne Rooney penalty. There would be no such luck for Owen Coyle’s side after the break as Danny Welbeck and Michael Carrick put the game beyond doubt as United recovered from back-to-back defeats to move level on points with rivals City at the top of the Premier League. At the other end of the table Bolton remain deep in the mire after being overtaken by North West rivals Blackburn following their win over Fulham.
A wasteful United should have been home and dry by the time Peter Walton had blew his whistle to indicate the end of the first half with an inspired Bogdan pulling several saves to keep his side in with a shout. The Hungarian keeper’s finest save came from Rooney’s penalty diving to his right to push the strikers firmly struck spot kick away after he had been fouled by Zat Knight. The visitors were hanging on by the skin of their teeth as Mark Davies cleared off the line and Bogdan saved from Welbeck to keep the score level before Scholes popped up to break the deadlock. Nani’s initial cross was blocked by David Wheater with the ball falling for Rooney who picked out the 37-year-old at the far post to score his first goal at Old Trafford since August 2010.
The home side failed to build on that advantage after the break and should have been punished by David N’Gog but the Frenchman could only fire over from close range before Rafael blocked strikes from Martin Petrov and Gretar Steinsson in what proved to be a wakeup call for the Red Devils. With the visitors on the hunt for an equaliser United’s nerves began to jangle and it would take a goal from Welbeck to put them back in to control of proceedings. The 21-year-old latched onto Rooney’s through ball before holding off Wheater and poking the ball past Bogdan although he will be counting the cost of his eagerness to score after hobbling off with a knee injury. Going two behind killed off any challenge from Bolton and the hosts were able to further increase their lead as Carrick effectively passed the ball into the net after being found by Ryan Giggs.