July 17, 2007 / 12:17 PM / 10 years ago

United held 2-2 by J-League champions

TOKYO (Reuters) - Manchester United were held to a 2-2 draw by J-League champions Urawa Reds in a friendly match at Saitama Stadium on Tuesday.

<p>England's Manchester United midfielder Cristiano Ronaldo (R) battles for the ball with Japan's Urawa Reds midfielder Hideki Uchidate (bottom) during their friendly match in Saitama, north of Tokyo July 17, 2007. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao</p>

United scored through Darren Fletcher and Cristiano Ronaldo, with Urawa getting goals from Hideki Uchidate and Shinji Ono.

Fielding virtually their first-team line-up, United started off the game at a leisurely pace, content just to stroke the ball around the pitch.

After Wayne Rooney and Michael Carrick failed to find the target with early efforts, Ronaldo brought the 58,716 fans to their feet in the 24th minute with a cracking, 20-metre shot that Urawa keeper Ryota Tsuzuki did well to palm away.

A minute later, United found themselves 1-0 down when Uchidate fired off a speculative shot from 25 metres that wrong-footed Edwin van der Saar in the United goal.

In the dying minutes of the first half, Rooney burst into life, first setting up a free header for Paul Scholes, then running 50 metres through the Reds defence, before firing off a low shot that was also saved by Tsuzuki.

United drew level in the second minute of the second half when Michael Carrick set up Fletcher for a low drive from 10 metres.

After a Rooney cracker that just cleared the bar, United took the lead in the 52nd minute.

Giggs released Ronaldo on the left and the Portuguese player cut in and finished off the move with a crisp, low drive from 20 metres.


The home side kept attacking and were rewarded for some enterprising play with an equaliser in the 78th minute.

Brazilian Robson Ponte linked up with Makoto Hasebe on the edge of the box to set up former Feyenoord midfielder Ono, who dummied to his left and then slid the ball past Van der Saar to make the score 2-2.

“We considered tonight’s game a good test for us and a good test for Urawa Reds and it was a fair result,” United boss Alex Ferguson said.

“In the second half, we obviously tired a little but I think it was an entertaining match.”

Ferguson said he was looking to assess the early progress of his players.

“I always look at if the enthusiasm is still there, is the desire there, are they enjoying their football -- and I think they are. I think we’ve further evidence that there’s no regression in the side and we’re making good progress.”

Ferguson did not field new signings Owen Hargreaves and Nani but said he expected them to be available in time for United’s matches in China on July 23 and 27.

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