Bébé saves Man U

2012-07-21 16:16

Manchester United once again showcased their never-say-die attitude when they pulled this game from the jaws of defeat during what was almost another example of “Fergie time”, referring to the ludicrous amounts of extra time to give ManU a chance to score.

This time, though, ManU only needed a mere four minutes of added time to get the job done.

Though this was just a friendly game, Ajax Cape Town should still celebrate the rare achievement of holding the former European and English Premiership champions United to a draw yesterday.

Just when Ajax thought they had the game in the bag after substitute Alcardo van Graan’s 86th minute goal, United levelled matters through their own substitute, Bébé.

After a rather lukewarm first-half performance in which the two teams were cautious, the game came to life in the second stanza as both teams pushed forward, particularly in the closing quarter.

Both sets of supporters left the stadium a happy lot after their teams’ displays.

Ajax gave a good account of themselves in the opening half and were never overawed by the occasion.

They could even have snatched a surprise first half lead had they been more clinical in front of goal but were let down by poor decision-making.

Particularly impressive was young Zimbabwean international Paul Rusike.

As expected, the visitors showed their superiority and technical ability in all aspects of the game as, at times, they made everything look very simple, on and off the ball.

But they could not breach the Ajax defence which was well marshalled by towering Matthew Booth.

When United eventually posted a threatening attempt in the 34th minute through Javier Hernandez’s header, goalkeeper Sander Westerveld was equal to the task as he parried the ball for a corner.

This was as close as United came to opening the score in the game.

The visitors’ new Japanese recruit Shinji Kagawa showed some nice touches on the ball, much to the delight of the United faithful who had turned the Fifa 2010 World Cup venue into a sea of red.

Kagawa could have capped his fine display with a goal but watched agonisingly as his header sailed narrowly wide in the 60th minute.

Even the light drizzle that came down before this eagerly-anticipated game could not dampen the spirits as the Capetonians were there in large numbers.

Although at times the game deteriorated, the supporters were satisfied that they had fulfilled their dream of seeing some of their footballing heroes in action.

If Ajax play like they did yesterday, they should be up with the top contenders for the Absa Premiership title in the upcoming local season.

Meanwhile, United captain Rio Ferdinand and his teammates will venture into Asia to continue their preseason tour.

They depart today for China, where they will engage in more preseason warm-up matches.

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