Saturday, July 27, 2013

In Moyes Time: Cerezo Osaka 2 - Manchester United 2

photo by Roby Ferrarivia PhotoRee
Ten minutes in and there were signs to encourage both sides, the ball zipping around the humidity-slicked surface of Nagai Stadium in Osaka, Japan like a greased watermelon on the Fourth of July. Although the players ran around the pitch as if intent on circling the track which surrounded it, there was precious little payoff in front of net -- in main part due to the sharp goalkeeping on display at both ends. As the game clock hit a half hour, the contest had comfortably settled into a tit-for-tat affair, with each attack by the visitors equaled impressively by the home side. It was Osaka, though, who finally broke the deadlock, taking advantage of a Chris Smalling mistake to grab a 1-0 lead -- showing that, if nothing else, United had become accustomed to playing from behind in the David Moyes era.

Although the visitors enjoyed a brief flurry of dominant, fluid football as the interval drew near, the second half began with the home side on level footballing terms once again. Ashley Young demonstrated that his diving was already in mid-season form, but the resulting Shinji Kagawa effort from the spot was denied -- rough justice for the hopeful fans in Osaka, perhaps, but justice nonetheless. The crowd favorite make quick amends, however, slotting Ryan Giggs' quick assist through Osaka 'keeper Kim Jin Hyeon's legs from a tight angle to pull his side level less than two minutes later.

Uncertain what to do with themselves, the visitors soon surrendered another goal -- true quality on display in the form of a Takumi Minamino curler into the top corner -- and found themselves once again in a familiar position, on the losing end of a pre-season score line. The youth brigade -- Zaha, Januzaj and Lingard -- came on in an attempt to salvage a point in Asia, and they left it late before doing the job: Anderson squaring a ball that Wilfried Zaha tapped in to score the first goal of Moyes Time™, ensuring the Champions were not embarrassed again before leaving Japan for Hong Kong.
This is a tired farlieonfootie bemoaning the early morning pre-season kickoff times on July 27.

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