x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Ronaldo is on the spot for United

A controversial penalty from Cristiano Ronaldo and a superb Wayne Rooney strike hand Manchester United victory.

Christiano Ronaldo scores Manchester United's opening goal from the penalty spot.
Christiano Ronaldo scores Manchester United's opening goal from the penalty spot.

MANCHESTER // A controversial penalty from Cristiano Ronaldo and a superb Wayne Rooney strike handed Manchester United their first home league victory of the season against Bolton Wanderers at Old Trafford. The Portugese winger, making his first league start after returning from an ankle surgery, struck from the spot on the hour mark after referee Rob Styles incorrectly adjudged Jlloyd Samuel had tripped Ronaldo.

Replays clearly showed the full-back had won the ball, but last season's player of the year picked himself up to send goalkeeper Jussi Jaskelainen the wrong way from 12 yards. Substitute Rooney wrapped up the contest with 13 minutes remaining with virtually his first touch when he took Ronaldo's intelligent back-heel, checked inside Kevin Nolan and curled his shot beautifully into the far corner.

It was a far from convincing display from the champions. Though they dominated throughout they struggled to break down a spirited but limited Bolton side. Indeed they were fortunate not to find themselves behind at the interval after midfielder Fabrice Muamba wasted a glorious opportunity to put the visitors in front four minutes before half-time. He blazed wide from eight yards after a mistake from Rio Ferdinand.

That would have been totally undeserved as Bolton, who packed the midfield and left Johan Elmander up front on his on to plough a lone furrow, looked to snatch a point. The Reds looked unusually subdued in the first half, despite the inclusion of the fit-again Ronaldo and Dimitar Berbatov, making his home debut. The former Tottenham striker was virtually anonymous as United looked below-par. Ji-Sung Park might have given the hosts the lead on 12 minutes when Jaskelainen spilled Carlos Tevez's low drive, but the South Korean fired into the side-netting from a tight angle on 12 minutes.

United did carve out some chances, with Ronaldo, Anderson and Ferdinand all forcing Jaaskelainen into action. Ronaldo went close to opening the scoring in front four minutes after the restart, but his shot on the turn struck the post, before he went down under Samuel's challenge in the game's major turning point. He made no mistake from the spot. Rooney replaced Tevez on 71 minutes, and he needed just six minutes to make an impact.

The forward sent Ronaldo away down the left and continued into the area, where he collected his sublime return before curling home a magnificent second. @Email:sports@thenational.ae