Manchester United stumbled to a 1-1 draw with Ajax Cape Town in the second match of their pre season tour. Alcardo Van Graan opened the scoring for the home side in the 86th minute with a looping back-heel from a corner, before Bebe levelled for United in the 92nd minute to rescue the draw.
Sporting a much more conventional 4-4-1-1 formation, Ferguson gave full debuts to Tyler Blackett, Marnick Vermijl and Shinji Kagawa, the latter playing in behind Chicha, as well as bringing on new signing Nick Powell for the last 20 minutes. Vermijl started at right back in place of Freddie Veseli, who had had a forgettable 45 minutes against AmaZulu, and played well throughout the game, once again displaying his attacking potential as well as defending solidly.
The first half was a drab affair as United struggled to find any rhythm, especially down the left with Anderson playing as a make-shift left winger. The first decent chance came after 34 minutes as Scott Wootton crossed in from the right and Chicha tested ex-Liverpool keeper Sander Westerveld with a glancing header on goal.
Shortly afterwards, an uncharacteristic error from Paul Scholes on the edge of the Ajax Cape Town box lead to a 3 on 1 break for the South African side, with only Rio Ferdinand back for United, however a misplaced pass allowed Scholes to make amends and the attack came to nothing.
Manchester United started the second half at a higher tempo, and with greater penetration than they had ended the first, resulting in a golden chance for Kagawa to score after 60 minutes. Anderson drove foward, passing the ball out wide to Chicha who played an inch perfect cross which Kagawa headed back across the ACT goal, only for the ball to hit the post.
Kagawa’s energy, link up play with midfield, and attacking instincts made him a joy to watch, even during the duller moments of this affair and bode well for him as pre-season continues.
Sir Alex made four changes in the 67th minute with Chicha, Scholes, Anderson and Valencia, who was sporting his new number 7 shirt for the first time, coming off and Bebe, Nick Powell, Ryan Tunnicliffe and Jesse Lingard coming on. Bebe replaced Chicha upfront whilst Lingard played on the left of midfield, Tunnicliffe the right, and Powell in the centre with Michael Carrick.
Lingard picked up where he left off against AmaZulu and looked impressive, whilst Powell also looked bright, linking up well with Tunnicliffe and Lingard either side of him, and Berbatov, who had come on for Kagawa in the 76th minute, ahead of him.
The game then burst in to life for the last 10 minutes when Ajax Cape Town scored from a corner in the 86th minute. Alcardo Van Graan drifted out from his position at the near post and neither Powell or Vermijl tracked him as he clipped a back-heel over Ben Amos into the far corner of United’s goal.
In a promising development, this seemed to inspire United’s young team to attack their opponents with previously unseen vigor, and a delightful one-two between Lingard and Powell resulted in a thunderous shot on goal from Powell which Sean Roberts did well to save.
United’s persistance was rewarded in the 92nd minute as Berbatov played in Vermijl down the right whose cross to the near post was deflected into the path of Bebe, who chipped it up and volleyed it into an open net from 6 yards out.
In a disjointed performance, new signings Shinji Kagawa and Nick Powell shone in terms of their movement and willingness to get involved. Next up for United is a long flight to China to face Shanghai Shenhua and old foes Drogba and Anelka.
The full lineup is here