Manchester United 1-1 AIK: United mostly rubbish in failing to get past Swedes

Michael Regan

Manchester United were largely useless as an almost full-strength side put in a lethargic performance against AIK.

With a very strong outfield team selected, United got off to a very positive start, with Nani and Wilfried Zaha immediately putting the AIK defence under pressure. Zaha stormed past his marker before seeing his centre deflected just away from the toe of Robin van Persie, before Nani twice easily beat his opponent down the left only to see his crosses fail to find their man.

Van Persie later came close to opening the scoring with the closest effort on goal as his low curling drive from the edge of the area just drifted wide of the far post. The Dutchman was to spurn a far better opportunity later, however, when he played Patrice Evra down the left before receiving the ball back but firing straight at the goalkeeper from 12 yards out.

United struggled to break down AIK for the rest of the half, rarely creating many of the flowing football that had occasionally been seen previously on the tour, despite the apparent lack of problems in matching their opponent's fitness. Yet injury problems were to unfortunately rear their head - Nani, who was looking sharp, was replaced by Angelo Henriquez midway through the first half while Jonny Evans was replaced by Chris Smalling shortly after the second half kicked off.

United soon fell behind as Robin Quaison took advantage of some woeful defending, bursting into an entirely abandoned right channel from the centre to give himself all the space in the world - his finish may have been spectacular, rocketing the ball into the top corner to give Anders Lindegaard no chance, but it was undoubtedly a product of some lazy stuff from United.

There was a dearth of creativity from the Reds, who seemed intent with putting in aimless and easily-cleared crosses in lieu of actual attacking football, but thankfully the equaliser wasn't too far away, Zaha the unsurprising creator as some fine work teed up Angelo Henriquez to prod home at the back post.

The second half was not too much improved from United, although Henriquez and Zaha were giving some glimpses of their potential with some determined displays. As would've befitted the disjointed performance, United's winner almost came through a goalmouth scramble as a far-post cross saw a prone Henriquez, joined by Welbeck and Anderson, not quite managing to prod, hack, or clog a loose ball over the line before the hosts eventually cleared.

Van Persie had yet another chance to score as time ran out, but his near-post glancing header from Evra's cross was straight at the AIK keeper.

It was difficult to bring oneself to watch the game as it drew to a close, with the idiotic crosses a particular point of consternation, inducing visible winces every time one was sent in. If this match is any indication about how United will operate with their best team out, then perhaps we should rethink what our best team is. If nothing else, it should highlight the desperate need for reinforcements.

Still, at this stage, the only thing that matters is fitness, right? Well, let's hope Evans and Nani's injuries aren't too serious...

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