Manchester United 4 Bolton 0

Old Trafford, Manchester

Manchester United started the season in emphatic fashion, thrashing the hardworking Bolton Wanderers 4 - 0. Though most will admit that the score line flatters United, it was a dominant performance by the champions, with some incisive creative play that proved that Veron and Beckham will not be missed.

The reds started off slowly, with sloppy passes often causing attacks to breakdown. Solskjaer had a wicked shot saved and tipped over by Jaaskelainen, before Nolan had a chance at the other end. Howard saved that shot comfortably, much to the Trotters dismay.

Pedersen had a chance to take the lead for Bolton when the ball inadvertently came through the united defence, with just the keeper to beat. It sat at his feet for a second, before the ball was whisked away from his feet.

United were lucky to go into the break a goal up. With Beckham and Veron both gone, we were all waiting to see who would take the free-kicks. Giggs stepped up and curled the ball delicately into the right-hand post, and into the back of the net. Those who questioned the sale of Beckham had obviously forgotten about the other talented players at Old Trafford.

After half-time, Bolton nearly pulled level. The industrious Pedersen fed Nolan for another shot at goal. The best the young Liverpudlian could do was to put it wide, but the Reds knew they'd been lucky to get away with it.

With the game fast turning into a battle of stamina, strength and determination, rather than skill, Ferguson switched things round. New-boys Djemba-Djemba and Ronaldo entered the fray.

It was 18 year old Ronaldo who stole the show. Within ten seconds he was on the floor having been harshly but fairly tackled, but he was back up on his feet soon enough to prove that he was capable of playing in the Premier league. He enlightened the crowd with flashes of skill, with 'lollipops', step-overs, turns and tricks.

Before long the Old Trafford faithful were screaming 'Give it Ronaldo', and the United players were more than willing to give it him. Five minutes after coming on he skipped past two defenders only to be tugged back by Bolton in the area. The penalty was subsequently surprisingly missed by the usually-lethal Van Nistelrooy, but it was a sign of things to come.

Wonder-kid Ronaldo again raced down the wing, beating man after man, before crossing the ball in. It was a long cross, but Scholes reacted fastest and played it back into the six-yard box. Van Nistelrooy's snapshot was saved by the still-jubilant Jaaskelainen, but he could only parry the ball into the path of Ryan Giggs, who slotted the ball home.

With the three points well on their way to Manchester, Bolton pushed forward with pipe-dreams of scoring two. Even the 'masked-man' Djorkaeff - wearing a mask to protect his cheekbone - could do little to help.

It was the other substitute, Djemba-Djemba, who played the ball through the Bolton defence for Scholes to run on to. Van Nistelrooy touched it, and the attack should have been stopped for offside. However, neither the Linesman nor referee spotted it, allowing Scholes to round the keeper and grab his first goal of the season.

More tricks from Ronaldo kept the fans happy, whilst Van Nistelrooy managed to atone for his earlier penalty miss by smashing in a clever through-ball by Forlan. He didn't celebrate, just turned back to the centre circle with the frustration now out of his system, such was his disappointment in himself. It was hard to believe that there was this anger from the player who had just set a new record for scoring in ten consecutive Premier league games, but it shows Van Nistelrooy's perfectionism - any other striker would have been happy to score just one Premiership goal.

With the game won, the team walked off to a standing ovation. Maybe Fergie hadn't been so wrong with his summer transfer dealings after all.

Man of match: Cristiano Ronaldo - £12.24 million well spent.

Man Utd: (4-5-1) Howard; Phil Neville, Ferdinand, Silvestre, Fortune; Solskjaer (Djemba-Djemba 66), Keane, Butt (Ronaldo 60), Giggs (Forlan 80), Scholes; van Nistelrooy. Subs not used: Carroll, O'Shea.

Bolton: Jaaskelainen, Hunt, Laville, N'Gotty, Gardner, Giannakopoulos (Facey 76), Okocha, Campo, Nolan (Frandsen 72), Pedersen (Djorkaeff 58), Davies. Subs not used: Poole, Barness.

Attendance: 67,647. Referee: P Durkin