Manchester // Sir Alex Ferguson hailed Paul Scholes as one of Manchester United's greatest players after the veteran midfielder put the home side on their way to a 3-0 win over Bolton Wanderers at Old Trafford yesterday.
A week after his retirement U-turn, Scholes scored his first Premier League goal since August 2010 and his first at Old Trafford for almost two years when he turned home Wayne Rooney's cross-shot in first-half stoppage time.
It was the 151st goal for Scholes, now 37, and was more remarkable because Ferguson had told him to sit in midfield and control the play.
"It was a surprise to see him at the far post," Ferguson said. "With his age and the fact he has just come back, we were looking for him to control central midfield, which he did. But he has the instinct. He always has had. He probably said: 'It's nearly half time, I will gamble.' He is one of our greatest players. When you see his performance today, you don't lose that."
Up to that point, it had been a struggle for United.
Rooney had a 20th-minute penalty saved by Adam Bogdan, who also repelled a couple of efforts from Danny Welbeck.
There were more nervy moments after the break, but eventually Welbeck and Michael Carrick struck late on to allow United to move level on points with leaders Manchester City, who head to bottom club Wigan Athletic tomorrow.
Ferguson was more vexed by the failure of the referee Peter Walton to send off Zat Knight when he brought Welbeck down for Rooney's penalty.
It seemed like a clear scoring opportunity and at the end of a week when Vincent Kompany was sent off against United for a two-footed tackle but Glen Johnson stayed on for a similar offence on Joleon Lescott three days later, Ferguson feels it is time for some clarification.
"We should have been playing against 10 men," he said. "But these inconsistencies are confusing to everyone."
Ferguson confirmed that Welbeck had gone off with a twisted knee but said he should be fit for next Sunday's trip to Arsenal.
Owen Coyle, the Bolton manager, confirmed that the move to get the US international defender Tim Ream in from New York Red Bulls as replacement for Chelsea-bound Gary Cahill is at an advanced stage, and the American was in attendance yesterday.
"We are close but we need to get an application in for a work permit, so we don't want to get ahead of ourselves," Coyle said.