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.

Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
news
Sport
footballLive! Chelsea vs West Ham kicked off 10 Boxing Day matches, with Arsenal vs QPR closing the action
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
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

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all