Sir Alex Ferguson says Paul Scholes showed the sort of form which has made him a Manchester United legend after he scored on his Old Trafford return.
The 37-year-old midfielder's strike just before half-time paved the way for a comfortable 3-0 win over Bolton.
Further goals by Danny Welbeck and Michael Carrick saw United go level on points with neighbours Manchester City at the top of the Premier League.
"He showed the same things he's shown for the last 10 years," Ferguson said.
"When he was a younger player [scoring like that] was his forte.
"Why he goes in there at that time of the game, when we are saying just sit in the middle of the park and control things, only his judgement can do that. And it was an important goal."
Scholes, who scored after Wayne Rooney had missed a penalty, made a surprise comeback from retirement ahead of last weekend's FA Cup win over Manchester City.
His goal against Bolton helped lift United to 48 points - the same as City, who play Wigan on Monday.
"Some of the press has been very negative about [his return] but I can understand that that's probably because it's United but he's still a fantastic player," Ferguson added.
"Over the last few months he's been training with the reserves and the young players have been in awe of him. He's been in intensive training the last few weeks to get back to where he is now."
Bolton rallied in the second half and their hopes were only killed on 74 minutes when Welbeck notched his eighth goal of the season.
Ferguson did not seem overly concerned about the 21-year-old, who had to be replaced after stretching to score.
The United boss said the forward "twisted his knee" but should be available for United's trip to Arsenal on 22 January.
Rooney's penalty came as a result of Welbeck being tripped by Zat Knight as he bore down on goal and Ferguson believed it should have led to a red card for the Bolton defender, rather than the yellow card he received.
And he said referees' chief Mike Riley needs to establish a consistent stance about what constitutes a red card after a recent spate of dismissals.
"It probably was a red card but it's difficult refereeing today deciding what is a red card and what is not," Ferguson said.
"But I think what should happen, particularly with these tackles going in, the referees' association and Mike Riley should come out and say what that law is and stick by that law.
"There are too many changes and too many inconsistencies and it really has to come from the very top to tell referees this is what's going to happen, this is your responsibility, and this is your decision making, because at the moment we are not seeing that."