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MANCHESTER - Sir Alex Ferguson has admitted Manchester United enjoyed a lucky break with a penalty decision that allowed Cristiano Ronaldo to put his team on course for a 2-0 win over Bolton.
But the Scot was still more than happy to accept his side's good fortune and claimed it was no more than they were due from referee Rob Styles.
The official awarded Ronaldo the penalty after the winger was tackled in the area by Jlloyd Samuel with replays clearly showing the defender won the ball fairly. Wayne Rooney, left out as part of Ferguson's squad rotation policy, claimed the second goal for United - the perfect response to being left out of the starting line-up. But it was Styles' glaring error that dominated post-match discussion.
Ferguson said: "I was surprised. I haven't seen it again but I was surprised because it looked to me as if their player got his foot on the ball.
"Nonetheless, Rob turned down four or five for us last year so maybe we got payback today but he still owes us four! It was surprising but it was a little break.
"We would have won the game okay but when teams are defending the way they did, with that determination, they are difficult to break down and you need a little break like that. We have had some good chances and played some good football at times. I think we deserved the victory."
Bolton manager Gary Megson was clearly fuming on the touchline and was still incensed by Styles' officiating after the final whistle.
"I can't imagine there is any side in the world where you have to play against the likes of Berbatov, Ronaldo, Tevez and Rooney and yet it was 0-0," said Megson. "Unfortunately, you can add Rob Styles to those four. It wasn't a penalty. At the time when it was given I didn't think it was even close and he was contemplating booking Ronaldo for diving and that would have been wrong. It was a nonsense decision.
"It sticks in the throat that last season, people were talking about diving, feigning injury and technology to help referees with goal-line and penalty incidents and what do we come up with?
"Respect for the referee, which is quite ironic.
"When we found out he was refereeing the game on Thursday, apparently he's got a bit of a history with Bolton and quite a few hearts sank."
English: Arsenal ,1 Hull City 2; Aston Villa 2; Sunderland 1; Everton 0; Liverpool 2; Fulham 1, West Ham United 2; Manchester United 2, Bolton Wanderers 0; Middlesbrough 0, West Bromwich Albion 1; Newcastle United 1, Blackburn Rovers 2; Stoke City 0, Chelsea 2.
Spain: Espanyol 1, Barcelona 2; Real Betis 1, Real Madrid 2; Sporting Gijon 0, Villarreal 1. - Sapa-AP