By Sean McGuire
An Injury time goal from Bebe saved Manchester United’s blushes in Cape Town yesterday after the home side took the lead with 3 minutes remaining.
United fielded a relatively experienced side which included a start for Shinji Kagawa, who was the Reds stand out player on the day.
The match began at a high tempo despite the friendly nature of the game with much of opening period being an end-to-end affair, and it was the home side who had the first meaningful attempt on goal on 19 minutes. A counter-attack from Ajax lead broke to a shot from Billiat, but he dragged his shot just wide of Amos’s goal.
Ajax then should have scored on 25 minutes after Fanteni found himself free in the box, however Tyler Blackett was on hand to heroically block the effort.
United’s best chance of the half came on 34 minutes when Wootton advanced brilliantly down the right-wing to cross for Hernandez, however the Mexican saw his downward header spectacularly saved by Westerveld.
Seconds later the home side broke forward quickly and Dolly found himself in front of goal, however, the Ajax forward could only shoot his effort over the bar.
United started the brightest in the second half and could have taken the lead within 90 seconds of the re-start after Kagawa’s inch perfect pass found Hernandez in the box, but the Little Pea failed to hit the target.
The next chance fell to United again on 62 minutes as this time Hernandez turned provider when his cross found Kagawa in the Ajax box, but the Reds new signing could only direct his header wide of the mark.
The middle part of the game became sketchy with an avalanche of substitutions taking place, but once the game started to settle it was United keeper who was first called into action on 75 minutes after he superbly stopped Fanteni’s low drive with a diving save to his left.
The game appeared to be fizzling out into a 0-0 draw, however both teams saved their best until last.
With just under 4 minutes left on the clock, the Urban Warriors won a corner on the left hand side. Billiat then sent the ball in low for substitute Alcardo van Graan to back heel the ball over Amos and into the net. Cue the wild celebrations.
Then Van Graan could have scored again after he rounded Amos, however his attempt on goal sailed wide of the post.
United looked like heading for defeat in their second tour match of South Africa and when the fourth official held up 4 minutes of injury time on the board, it was all down to United’s youngsters to salvage something from the game.
Nick Powell almost equalised for the Reds a minute into stoppage time after a neat one-two with Berbatov, however the eighteen year old had his powerful drive stopped by substitute keeper Roberts.
Then deep into stoppage time Marnick Vermijl made one last charge forward down the right hand side, before his cross found substitute Bebe at the far post who took one touch to control the ball, then blasted home United’s equaliser.
On the reflection of play a draw seemed a fair result, and despite it being a rather disappointing display by the Reds, at least we found out that United’s next crop of youngsters have the never-say-die attitude of those players who have gone before them.
United: Amos, Vermijl, Ferdinand, Wootton, Blackett, Anderson (Lingard), Carrick, Scholes (Powell), Valencia (Tunnicliffe), Kagawa (Berbatov), Hernandez (Bebe)
Goal: Bebe (90)
Ajax Cape Town: Westerveld (Roberts), Hlatshwayo, Allie (Wolff), Booth, Jenniker, Rusike (Julius), Scott (Shabalala), Losper (Vilakazi), Billiat, Dolly (Mokeke), Fanteni (van Graan)
Goal: Van Graan (87)
Ground: Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town
Published with permission from Red Army - Manchester United News.