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Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2010

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In your face: United's Park Ji Sung, left, vies for the ball with Bolton's Lee Chung Yong during their match on Sunday. AP PHOTO

United fails to take advantage as Owen rescues point

LONDON (AP) Manchester United was held to a 2-2 draw by Bolton in the Premier League on Sunday, failing to fully capitalize on defeats for Chelsea and Arsenal a day earlier.

United could have moved to within a point of league-leader Chelsea with a win at Reebok Stadium but needed a 74th-minute equalizer by substitute Michael Owen to rescue a point and go second in the table. Chelsea relinquished its perfect record by losing 1-0 to Manchester City on Saturday, while Arsenal lost 3-2 at home to West Bromwich Albion and dropped to third.

"With the results this weekend, it was an opportunity to close that gap at the top but it wasn't to be," said Owen, who made it three goals in the week after his double against Scunthorpe in the League Cup on Wednesday. "We were helped with a few nice results but it's a long season and we'll bounce back."

Nani had canceled out the early opener by Bolton defender Zat Knight before Martin Petrov gave the hosts the lead for the second time.

In other matches, Aston Villa won 2-1 win at Wolves thanks to a late Emile Heskey header and Stoke rallied to beat Newcastle 2-1 away.

Owen came off the bench in the 71st minute and glanced home Nani's free kick three minutes later with his first touch in the match to leave United three points behind Chelsea.

"It's always a tough place to come but we created enough chances and dominated most of the game. We're disappointed to only get a point," Owen said.

Bolton took the lead in the sixth minute when Petrov's left-wing corner was flicked in by center back Knight, who got to the ball just ahead of Jonny Evans.

That goal sparked United into life and, after going close on a number of occasions, the visitors deservedly equalized through Nani, who picked the ball up on halfway and set off on a run through the Bolton defense before shooting low into the corner from 20 meters.

After Wayne Rooney was taken off by United manager Alex Ferguson, who later confirmed the England striker was struggling with an ankle injury, Bolton went ahead for the second time in the 67th. Petrov cut inside and smashed a right-foot shot that flicked off Darren Fletcher and past goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar at his near post.

Owen was then introduced for Fletcher and made an immediate impact with a darting run to the near post and heading Nani's free kick off the far post for his 200th career goal in English club soccer.

"Bolton were a real handful and our chances were reduced but we must take credit for coming back again, it shows a bit of character," Ferguson said. "I thought it was a fair result."

Heskey was handed his first Villa start in six months and repaid the faith shown in him by new manager Gerard Houllier by scoring the winner with a powerful header two minutes from time at Molineux.

The former England striker also scored in Villa's 3-1 win over Blackburn in the League Cup in midweek and looks to be reaping the benefits of working under Houllier, who also managed Heskey when both were at Liverpool.

"Because he plays up front and sometimes misses sitters, people get on his back and maybe that has hurt him in the past," Houllier said. "What he needs is to keep believing in himself.

"After the League Cup game, I said 'well done, this is what you are capable of and there is no reason why you can't repeat that.' "

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