Cerezo Osaka vs. Manchester United: Final score 2-2, late Zaha goal spares United's blushes

Atsushi Tomura

Manchester United pulled a draw back in the last minute thanks to a goal from Wilfried Zaha after a wondergoal appeared to consign United to defeat.

Manchester United almost took the lead immediately as Robin van Persie was suddenly released on goal, but despite showing quick reflexes to get his shot away, failed to direct it far enough away from the Cerezo Osaka goalkeeper.

United appeared to struggle in the heat and with the superior match fitness of their opponents - a recurring problem on this tour - and almost fell behind twice, first after Anders Lindegaard saved from a corner, and second when some slack defending left a loose ball running on the edge of the area, which United were fortunate to see mishit into the stands.

Yet United could not afford another mistake, and when Rio Ferdinand gave the ball away in a dangerous area, Osaka punished United, slotting the ball between Chris Smalling's legs past Lindegaard to put United behind yet again in their pre-season.

United pushed on towards the end of the half, almost equalising when Danny Welbeck surged into the left channel before smashing his effort off the inside of the near post. The rebound fell kindly for Robin van Persie, but he unselfishly chose to set up Shinji Kagawa, who, not expecting the pass, skied his effort well over the bar.

The second half heralded a more composed performance from United, and Ashley Young's trickery in the box earned a penalty soon after, giving Kagawa the chance to score in front of his old fans, but his tame shot was saved by the keeper in what was becoming a frustrating time for the Japanese playmaker.

Shortly afterwards, however, Kagawa managed to make amends, collecting the ball at the near post and spinning before placing a shot that nutmegged both the defender and the goalkeeper to get the goal he desperately wanted.

It was to be Kagawa's last act on the pitch as he was soon withdrawn for Wilfried Zaha, United were playing far better in the second half, and went close twice shortly after with Zaha's directness proving hard for the hosts to handle. First his cross was inches away from finding Danny Welbeck with an easy chance at the near post, before the former Crystal Palace winger's trickery saw him bamboozle several defenders in the Osaka box, but his shot from a tight angle drifted just wide of the post.

Yet with United appearing to dominate, United suddenly found themselves behind again thanks to a remarkable strike from the excellent Takumi Minamino, who smashed a curling effort right into the top corner that left Lindegaard without a prayer, and United were forced to come from behind again.

United struggled to force any chances as a defeat became increasingly likely, but in the last minute, Anderson was released at the near post, squaring for Wilfried Zaha to tap into the empty net, a deserved goal for a player who was probably United's best on the night. Not a great performance, although some flashes of the link-ups from the forwards were promising. On the plus side, David Moyes will surely be more convinced than ever that a midfield overhaul is needed.

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