Scholes on target as Man Utd keep pace

14 January 2012 06:16

Paul Scholes scored a fairy-tale goal as Manchester United outclassed Bolton Wanderers 3-0 to go level on points with Premier League leaders Manchester City on Saturday.

Playing his first game at Old Trafford since making a shock return from retirement in the FA Cup win over City on Sunday, Scholes fired United ahead in first-half injury time.

The 37-year-old's strike was his 103rd goal in the Premier League and came just under 18 years after his first, scored on his debut against Ipswich Town in September 1994.

Late goals from striker Danny Welbeck and Michael Carrick made sure of the points as United -- who also had a Wayne Rooney penalty saved -- ended a run of two league defeats to leave Bolton firmly stuck in the relegation quagmire.

United manager Sir Alex Ferguson was delighted by Scholes' opener.

"He's a great player. Some of the press has been negative about his return but that's probably because it's United but he's still a fantastic player," Ferguson said.

"He's been in intensive training the last few weeks to get back to where he was today, and today he showed what he's had for the last 10 years. It was an important goal."

Tottenham, meanwhile, missed the opportunity to join United and City -- who face bottom club Wigan Athletic on Monday -- at the top after being held to a 1-1 draw by Wolverhampton Wanderers at White Hart Lane.

Wolves stunned Spurs by taking the lead on 22 minutes, Steven Fletcher bagging his ninth goal of the season after Roger Johnson headed on Matt Jarvis' teasing corner.

Spurs ramped up the pressure after the restart and soon drew level, Croatian midfielder Luka Modric rifling in the equaliser from the edge of the area in the 51st minute.

Elsewhere, Chelsea clung on for a 1-0 victory over Sunderland at Stamford Bridge to remain four points clear of Arsenal in fourth place.

Chelsea took the lead on 13 minutes when Fernando Torres' volley thundered off the underside of the crossbar and rebounded into the net off Frank Lampard.

Chelsea were forced to work hard for the win, however, and survived strong Sunderland penalty claims in the second half when Nicklas Bendtner appeared to be shoved over by Ashley Cole.

"It is an important three points to get for the run of consistency we need in January," Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas said. "It was important for the team bearing in mind Liverpool and Tottenham's results."

Liverpool's push towards a top-four finish suffered another setback when they were held to a 0-0 draw at Anfield by Stoke City.

The stalemate was Liverpool's seventh draw in 11 home matches this season, once again drawing attention to the Merseysiders' failure to find a reliable goalscoring threat this season.

"We had plenty of possession but we need a wee bit more of an attacking edge up front," Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish said.

"If you get an opening you need to take your chances and we could have been a little bit more creative with our possession."

An eventful game at Ewood Park saw Blackburn Rovers recover from the early dismissal of striker Ayegbeni Yakubu to cling on for a 3-1 win over Fulham which moved the club out of the relegation zone for the first time in four months.

Yakubu was given his marching orders for a wild tackle on Fulham's Danny Murphy mid-way through the first half, but Rovers shrugged off the setback to take a 2-0 lead with goals from Morten Gamst Pedersen and David Dunn.

Fulham were given hope when Damien Duff pulled a goal back against his former club on 56 minutes.

But Rovers striker Mauro Formica scored a late goal on the counter-attack to seal a win that moved Blackburn out of the relegation zone on goal difference at the expense of QPR, who play Newcastle on Sunday.

In Saturday's other games, promoted Norwich City dug out another vital win away from home with a 2-1 win over West Bromwich Albion.

Andrew Surman fired Norwich into the lead with a superb volley from Wes Hoolahan's cross before Shane Long equalised for the Baggies from the penalty spot on 68 minutes.

But Steve Morison popped up with a winner on 79 minutes to give the Canaries another impressive result.

Aston Villa and Everton battled to a 1-1 draw at Villa Park.

England striker Darren Bent gave Villa the lead on 56 minutes but Everton hit back to level through Victor Anichebe in the 69th minute.

Source: AFP

World Cup Group G

Pos Team Pld Pts
- Belgium 0 0
- Panama 0 0
- Tunisia 0 0
- England 0 0