A Dimitar Berbatov-inspired United moved back to the top of the Premier League and on course for a record fourth successive title. The £30.75m Bulgarian was in masterful form, playing as a lone frontman in the absence of Wayne Rooney scoring twice and having a role in another as United blasted their way to a 4-0 win against Bolton. It was the perfect response to Chelsea's 7-1 win against Aston Villa earlier in the day, which sent Carlo Ancelotti's side two points clear of United if only for a matter of hours. Their stay at the top of the Premier League always looked like being a temporary one once Jlloyd Samuel diverted Ryan Giggs' 38th minute cross into his own net. From then on it was the Berbatov show and the mercurial striker, who has frustrated so many fans in less than two seasons at Old Trafford, put forward the best possible case to be included in Tuesday's Champions League quarter final first leg with Bayern Munich. The likelihood is that Sir Alex Ferguson will revert to his preferred system of Rooney as the lone striker against the Germans but he was left in no doubt that he now has a genuinely viable alternative. Berbatov swaggered around the Reebok, firing daggers through the Bolton rearguard with every pass. That is nothing new but most pleasing for Ferguson will have been his striker's killer instinct, which has so often been suspect in the past. Reacting sharply to Jussi Jaaskelainen's parry from Darren Fletcher in the 69th minute, he side-footed home to put United 2-0 up and effectively out of sight. One became two less than 10 minutes later when on 78 minutes he impudently flicked Nani's cross through a crowd of players and Jaaskelainen with the outside of his foot. He still wasn't finished, when, with the game well and truly wrapped up with eight minutes to go, he played a part in the build up to substitute, Darron Gibson's, powerful finish, which came with virtually the midfielder's first touch after coming on a substitute. It was an imperious performance from Ferguson's men, who moved a point clear of Chelsea, four ahead of Arsenal, who could only draw 1-1 with Birmingham.
Not that United weren't given a few scares on the way to victory twice relying on Edwin van der Sar to roll back the years with two tremendous saves in the first half.
First he was down low to deny Johan Elmander's shot on the angle in the 27th minute.
Then, with United one up after Samuel's own goal, Fabrice Muamba's powerful strike looked destined for the top corner, only for the veteran Dutchman to tip the shot over the bar.
From then on it was one way traffic as United turned up the power in the second half.