Reds Wrap up Asian Leg
Although Manchester United ended the Asian leg of their pre-season Tour 2013 with a dominating performance over Hong Kong’s Kitchee FC, a loss to Yokohama and a draw against Cerezo Osaka came unexpectedly.
After acing Australia’s A-League All Stars 5-1 on July 20, the reigning Barclays Premiere League Champions left the land down under for a 5,200-mile journey to Yokohama, home of the F-Marinos.
The team has a successful history dating back to 1972 that includes three J.League titles since Japan’s top league was introduced in 1993.
The match was a homecoming of sorts for Japanese mid-fielder, Shinji Kagawa, who was substituted in at Nissan Stadium for the final half-hour – much to fans’ delight. They cheered Kagawa’s every touch as if he’d just a scored a goal.
In the end it was Yokohama striker Yoshihito Fujita who stole the spotlight, sending a low shot to the back of the net from 15 yards in the 87th minute to hand United their second defeat on this Tour 2013.
Though Kagawa wasn’t able to capitalize on his home field advantage to help the Reds win, all told fans were treated to an energetic match with loads of opportunities and shots on goal.
On to Osaka
Manchester United’s second fixture in Japan was to play out against Cerezo Osaka at Osaka Nagai Stadium on July 26. Again in the spotlight, Kagawa battled his former club valiantly in what was deemed a demanding test, scoring one of two goals for his team and missing a penalty shot. Though the hometown fans certainly cheered on their local boys, the stadium was awash with Kagawa banners and the decimal level increased noticeably each time he was on the ball.
The action-packed match saw United twice come back from behind, with Wilfried Zaha scoring his first goal for United in the final seconds to avoid a second defeat in Japan in just four days.
Despite the draw, United’s manager, David Moyes, called the match his team’s “best performance” on the tour.
Five-goal haul in Hong Kong
Hong Kong’s 2012/2013 first division runner up, Kitchee FC, was the final stop on the Asian leg of the Tour 2013 and the Red’s penultimate match in their pre-season journey.
United’s fitness level appeared to be on the rise as the team displayed a dominant performance in the goal-happy match against Kitchee FC on July 29.
Welbeck, Smalling, Fabio, Januzaj and Lingard found the net for United, while Kitchee should be pleased by two world-class goals against one of the world’s top soccer clubs.
It was certainly the way coach David Moyes wanted to wrap up this leg of the tour, which he has praised as “amazing.”
Rooney expected in Sweden
United’s heavyweight striker, Wayne Rooney, who left the tour with a hamstring injury before the first match in Thailand, is expected to return for the friendly against AIK Fotboll in Stockholm, Sweden, on August 6.