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Match Report


Posted Sun 26 Sep 10 at 16:42 PM

Wanderers 2 Manchester United 2

Wanderers were unlucky not to take three points off Manchester United in a pulsating Sunday afternoon clash at the Reebok, having twice taken the lead, first through Zat Knight, and then in the second half thanks to Martin Petrov.

It was Knight's early goal that gave the Whites the perfect start, as he rose highest in a congested penalty area to flick home Petrov's out-swinging corner with the outside of his boot.

United levelled midway through the half after Nani capped a jinking run with a clever finish.

But Owen Coyle's men regained the lead after the break through Bulgarian Petrov, who rounded off a superb, flowing counter-attack with a right-footed finish.

Wanderers were denied their first home league win of the season when substitute Michael Owen's flicked header looped in following a Nani free-kick.

The in-form Dimitar Berbatov, fresh from his hat-trick against Liverpool the previous week, was the first player to have a shot on goal, however his effort from a tight angle on two minutes flew high and wide of the target.

Equally, Wanderers also managed to put United's rearguard under some early pressure, with Chung-Yong Lee's effort from outside the box deflecting off a Reds defender and fizzing narrowly wide of the target.

And from the resulting corner, Zat Knight opened the scoring with a fine flick from six yards out.

It was an exquisite finish from the central defender as he managed to stick out a boot inside a packed penalty area and guide the ball between the far post and Patrice Evra.

United were almost back on level terms three minutes after the opening goal as a slick break down the right resulted in Ryan Giggs testing Jussi Jaaskelainen from 10 yards out.

Luckily for Jaaskelainen - who was back after his three-match suspension - the winger's first-time effort was directed straight at him.

It was the first of three quick successive saves from the Finland international as Darren Fletcher and Wayne Rooney both had shots on targets, with the effort from the Scotland midfielder bringing a particularly smart full length stop from Jaaskelainen.

Johan Elmander was a boot's width away from making it 2-0 when he almost got a telling touch on Kevin Davies' flicked header, but as it was the visitors drew level halfway through the first period with a superb individual goal from Nani.

The Portuguese winger embarked on a run from his own half, and after carrying the ball 30 yards, he drilled an effort across goal and inside the post, past Jaaskelainen's valiant dive.

It had been a real end-to-end opening to the game with both teams conjuring up plenty of chances, but following the equaliser the pace relented slightly.

Still, it was to be expected that Manchester United would attack at every opportunity and Wanderers had to dig deep to stay on level terms at the break.

Knight made a telling clearance inside his own six-yard box following a Nani cross, Rooney curled a shot narrowly over the bar from outside the box, and in stoppage time Nemanja Vidic headed wide from a Ryan Giggs corner.

Equally, in the minutes leading up to the break Sam Ricketts brought a decent save from Edwin Van der Sar with a marauding run from defence and only a last ditch challenge from Johnny Evans thwarted a dart forward from Elmander.

So 1-1 at half-time was a reflection of the proceedings in the opening 45 minutes.

Bolton again held their own after the break and defended resolutely, keeping the Red Devils at bay in the opening minutes of the second-half.

Indeed, Sir Alex Ferguson made two substitutions to shake-up his attack, bringing off Ryan Giggs and Wayne Rooney and throwing on Park Ji-Sung and Federico Macheda.

But it was Wanderers who got back in front on 68 minutes as Martin Petrov started and ended a swift counter attack to register his first goal since joining in the summer from Manchester City.

The Bulgarian delivered a divine switch from the left to right to Chung-Yong, who in turn carried the ball 15 yards forward before playing it into the feet of Elmander.

The Sweden international showed great awareness to pick out Petrov and the number 10 cut inside on his right foot and smashed the ball into the top corner, beating Van der Sar at his near post, albeit with the help of a deflection off Darren Fletcher.

And it could have been even better for the Whites in their next attack when Elmander got goal-side of Vidic inside the penalty area. But the striker opted for power rather than placement and his finish from 12 yards skewed over the bar.

Wanderers were made to pay for the miss as just two minutes later substitute Michael Owen brought Manchester United level once again with a glancing header.

Nani, who had been a constant threat all game, whipped in a free-kick to the near edge of the six-yard box and Owen got the necessary touch to direct the ball into the back of the net with the help of the far post.

Bolton heads didn't drop and they sensed that three points were still there for the taking in the latter stages, despite twice losing the lead.

Elmander drilled a left foot effort across goal and Petrov saw a 30-yard free-kick float wide of the target.

Indeed, Owen Coyle's men pressed for the winner right until the very end and although it didn't duly arrive, the draw was the minimum that they deserved for their efforts as they showed all the qualities to suggest that they can stand toe to toe with the very best.

Wanderers: Jaaskelainen, Steinsson, Ricketts, Knight, Robinson, Chung-Yong (Blake 90), Holden, Muamba (Davies 63), Petrov (Taylor 90), Kevin Davies, Elmander (Subs not used: Bogdan, Alonso, Rodrigo, Klasnic

Manchester United: Van der Sar, Evra, Berbatov, Rooney (Macheda 60), Giggs (Park 53), Vidic, Nani, Scholes, O'Shea, Evans, Fletcher (Owen 70) (Subs not used: Kuszczak, Anderson, Smalling, Rafael)  

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