Friday, July 29, 2005

[manchesterunited_rulez] Digest Number 286

There is 1 message in this issue.

Topics in this digest:

1. Reds Rumbled In Tokyo
From: Larry Cai <larry66b@yahoo.com.sg>

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Message: 1
Date: Thu, 28 Jul 2005 22:24:29 +0800 (CST)
From: Larry Cai <larry66b@yahoo.com.sg>
Subject: Reds Rumbled In Tokyo

Minor Quake Hits As United Are Shocked In Tokyo

Pre-Season Friendly
Kashima Antlers 2
Manchester United 1
National Stadium, Tokyo

Manchester United suffered two superbly taken Masashi Motoyama goals, a series of missed chances of their own and a minor earthquake in the first of two matches in Tokyo.

Ultimately, despite Ryan Giggs' first-half goal and some enthralling football from Cristiano Ronaldo in particular, United could not avoid their first defeat of their Asia Tour.

A minor earthquake, its epicentre 150km outside the Japanese capital and measuring 3.0 on the Richter scale, was felt midway through the first half.

The greater shock came after just five minutes. Sir Alex Ferguson was expecting a tough encounter from Kashima Antlers, who are six points clear in Japan's J-league, but he would not have counted on his team being a goal down so early in this game.

Japanese football's goldenboy, Masashi Motoyama, struck a brilliant volley past Tim Howard to put the home side in front.

Ryan Giggs restored parity just two minutes later, finishing off a swift United attack which saw Ronaldo tee the Welshman up with a perfect, low and incisive cross.

However, Motoyama struck again with an almost identical move. The ball was played between Rio Ferdinand and Phil Neville, who was playing at right-back, and Motoyama was quickest to react, this time firing his left-footed volley low past Howard.

Worrying for the Reds, a multitude of chances went begging throughout the remaining 65 minutes.

Tim Howard was forced into a couple of superb saves, but it was United that went closest. Louis Saha was left in disbelief as his turn and shot on 27 minutes was not rewarded with a goal.

Cristiano Ronaldo, despite only having 45 minutes of pre-season football under his belt, continued to wow the Japanese fans, who were on their feet every time the Portuguese winger touched the ball. He glided past Kashima's defenders on either flank, and began to turn on the tricks much to the delight of the 40,000 or so fans.

The second half saw the introduction of Rooney, Smith and, after an hour, Ruud van Nistelrooy as the likelihood of a United victory appeared to increase.

Within ten minutes of the restart, Rooney went desperately close to equalising with a powerful, long-range drive. The teenager then picked out van Nistelrooy with amazing precision and awareness, but the Dutchman's effort lacked power and was easily saved.

Ronaldo should have capped what was an excellent individual display with a goal, but he headed Kleberson's looping cross wide from close range.

Motoyama twice could have extended Kashima's lead. A curling left-footed strike went just wide on 71 minutes, whilst Tim Howard was forced to deal with an awkward bounce from the Japanese attacker's superbly struck right-footed volley with ten minutes remaining.

Ferguson will not have been enthused at the similarity to the FA Cup final defeat to Arsenal; clear cut chances were too easily passed up in Tokyo. With the Champions League draw on Friday determining United's opponents in the qualifiers, Ferguson will hoping goals do not once again prove a problem for his side when the competitive matches start up in under two weeks.

United: Howard; P Neville, Ferdinand, G. Neville (Silvestre, 45), O'Shea (Bardsley, 77); Ronaldo (Park, 70), Miller (Smith, 45), Jones (Rooney, 45), Kleberson, Giggs; Saha (Van Nistelrooy, 62).

Report by Ben Hibbs.


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