Three and easy for Red Devils

On only his second appearance since his shock retirement U-turn,

the 37-year-old tapped home Wayne Rooney’s cross-shot at the

far-post in first-half stoppage time to give the hosts a priceless

lead after Rooney had seen his penalty saved by Adam Bogdan.

After a frustrating second-half, Danny Welbeck and Michael

Carrick eventually sealed victory late on, ensuring United now only

trail neighbours Manchester City, who do not play until Monday, on

goal difference.

After Thierry Henry’s matchwinning effort for Arsenal on Monday,

it was perhaps destined that Scholes would come up with something

special today once he was confirmed as a member of the United

starting line-up.

Had referee Peter Walton not been feeling charitable, it could

easily have been a red card, for Scholes’ thigh-high assault on

Mark Davies was pretty poor in a week when refereeing

inconsistencies within the English game have been a talking

point.

However, after a couple of cracking long-range shots, Scholes

saved the drama until first-half stoppage time.

Having peeled away to the far post, he was perfectly placed to

turn home a Rooney cross-shot, which Danny Welbeck had failed to

get a touch to.

It the 151st United goal of Scholes’ career, and his first since

August 2010, meaning he has equalled last season’s tally in just

two appearances after abandoning his job coaching the club’s

reserve team.

It was tough luck on the visitors, particularly their goalkeeper

Bogdan, who had performed heroics up to that point to keep the

hosts out.

Beaten from 92 yards by Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard on his

last league outing, Bogdan got the better of Rooney from 12

today.

When Zat Knight was beaten to Antonio Valencia’s through ball by

Welbeck, the Bolton defender pushed his opponent in a desperate

attempt to reach the ball.

There was no debate about the penalty. However, as at Manchester

City last week, Rooney’s spot-kick was saved.

And on this occasion, after plunging to his right, Bogdan got

enough on the ball to steer it away from any possible rebound.

The young keeper’s place is at risk as Jussi Jaaskelainen nears

a full recovery from a thigh strain.

But he must have been pleased with his fine personal display, in

particular two saves to deny Welbeck.

And with Mark Davies bundling a Rooney header off the line,

Bolton were gaining in confidence, although the ease with which

United got behind them explained why USA defender Tim Ream was in

the stands, pending his arrival as Chelsea-bound Gary Cahill’s

replacement.

Bolton wasted an excellent opportunity to equalise straight

after the restart when United’s defence, not for the first time,

got themselves into a tangle, which allowed Davies to race into the

area.

He found Ngog but with an unmarked Martin Petrov screaming for a

lay-off, the former Liverpool man scooped his shot high over the

bar.

This was a warning for Sir Alex Ferguson’s men, although there

was no immediate end to the chances being wasted.

Rooney was again the culprit just after the hour, when Valencia

burst into the box and crossed low to the far post.

In fairness to the striker, he was at full stretch as he went to

turn the ball into an empty net and failed in his quest as the ball

flashed narrowly wide.

If Bolton’s earlier effort was a warning, Gretar Steinsson’s was

a heart-stopper as his flicked header from a Bolton corner looped

over Anders Lindegaard.

Thankfully for the hosts, Rafael had not left his station by the

far post and, just as Davies had done from exactly the same

position in the first-half, ensured the goal was not breached.

United’s second arrived 15 minutes from time, with Welbeck

prodding his eighth goal of the season beyond Bogdan after reaching

Rooney’s lay-off ahead of Sam Ricketts.

The striker took a kick on the back of the leg for his pains,

though, and had to be replaced by Javier Hernandez.

But it failed to interrupt the hosts’ momentum and, after

striding onto Giggs’ square pass, Carrick curled a superb

left-footed shot past Bogdan from 25 yards.

After successive defeats, it was just what United needed as a

confidence booster ahead of a tough sequence of fixtures, starting

at Arsenal next weekend, which are likely to determine their

chances of retaining the title.