Owen rescues point for out-of-sorts United

Bolton 2 Manchester United 2

Michael Owen rescued a point for Manchester United after Sir Alex Ferguson's men twice had to come from behind against Bolton at the Reebok Stadium.

Owen nodded home Nani's free-kick 16 minutes from time to ensure United did not join the other victims on a weekend of shock defeats.

Yet it was hardly a pleasing outcome for Ferguson, who would have hoped for better once Nani levelled Zat Knight's early effort but instead saw his team fall behind again thanks to Martin Petrov.

As United have now conceded nine goals in five league games and trail leaders Chelsea by three points, it was not the best of weekends for them, nor an out-of-sorts Wayne Rooney, who was replaced by Federico Macheda half an hour from the end.

Saturday's results could not have worked out any better for United and the intent behind their attacking play was obvious from the first kick, but defensively they remain unconvincing.

The absence of Rio Ferdinand with Wednesday's Champions League encounter with Valencia in mind was a further indication that all is not well with the England skipper.

And without him, life continues to be a struggle.

A late goal at Fulham, two in injury-time at Everton and a Steven Gerrard brace against Liverpool last weekend when the Reds did not have a single shot of note in open play during the entire game is not a record to be proud of.

To that crime sheet can now be added Knight's back flick.

The defender's third goal in as many years could not be described as conventional.

But once Patrice Evra moved away from the far post he was supposed to be patrolling when Petrov curled over his corner, the target was wide enough for him to steer the ball into once he had escaped the attentions of Jonny Evans.

That United would score themselves was never really in doubt such was their dominance of possession in key midfield areas.

The problem was whether they would concede again in the meantime.

Edwin van der Sar was forced to make a couple of vital interventions as Kevin Davies and Johan Elmander made their presence felt, with Evans not looking entirely comfortable.

At the other end, United's play was incisive and both Giggs and Rooney wasted decent chances.

The manner of the visitors' equaliser would have come as a disappointment to Owen Coyle.

Nani deserved plenty of credit for his ambition as he set off racing towards the Bolton goal from inside his own half.

However, the Trotters defence just kept inviting him to run and the Portuguese winger had got to the edge of the area before he drilled an impressive shot past Jussi Jaaskelainen.

In fairness to Bolton, it was something of an aberration given how well they had done at closing down space around their penalty area and forcing United into pumping a succession of crosses into the box.

It was a tactic United persevered with after the interval and eventually resulted in the substitution of an ineffective Rooney half an hour from the end.

Rooney's work rate could not be faulted on his first appearance away from Old Trafford since the storm erupted over his private life.

But he does not threaten at the moment and now Owen has taken his tally to three in a week, compared to one for Rooney - from the penalty spot - all season, an interesting selection dilemma looms for Ferguson in Valencia on Wednesday.

Owen was not even on the pitch when Petrov put Bolton back in front, exploiting more poor defensive work to step inside Park then rocket a shot past Edwin van der Sar that flicked off John O'Shea.

The introduction of Federico Macheda did result in an opening for Berbatov but it took Owen's deft near-post flick for the far corner from Nani's free-kick to bring United level.

A late onslaught was expected as United hunted the winner.

But it did not actually materialise, with Elmander, who had wasted an excellent chance to seal victory for Bolton before Owen scored, steering the final opportunity wide as well.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor