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Henriquez shines as injuries hamper United

article-2385499-1B2D24BD000005DC-181_634x402Manchester United concluded their pre-season tour with a 1-1 draw in Stockholm against AIK, but David Moyes will have to wait to assess the extent of the injuries to Nani and Jonny Evans, who were both forced off the pitch.

Nani, playing his first pre-season game with the first team squad, had been United’s biggest threat, linking up excellently with Wilfried Zaha and displaying the sort of endeavour and enterprise many expected to see from the Portuguese who, having been linked with a move away from the club, was clearly eager to impress David Moyes before being withdrawn with the game barely 30 minutes old.

Evans, meanwhile, was forced off the field early in the second half after seemingly suffering an injury to his right foot and was replaced by Chris Smalling, who’s now one of only four centre-backs available to David Moyes, alongside Rio Ferdinand, Phil Jones and Nemanja Vidic, who made his return tonight.

United, playing their first game in Sweden since they were knocked from the 1994-95 Champions League by IFK Goteborg, lined up with in familiar pre-season fashion, with Lindegaard in goal, Evra, Rafael and Evans partnering the returning Vidic in defense, Carrick, Anderson and Giggs in midfield, while Zaha and Nani supporting Robin Van Persie up-front.

There was, of course, no sign of Wayne Rooney, but United did not seem to miss their striker too much and should have been ahead with five minutes gone, when Zaha miscued a shot after Nani and Anderson had combined well to set the former Palace man up. After Bahoui twice went close to put the host in front within a minute, it was United’s turn to create a couple of chances.

With 17 minutes gone, birthday boy Robin Van Persie fired just wide after he had done brilliantly to create space for himself then, 10 minutes later, the Dutchman was the creator and the finisher, as he picked out Patrice Evra before racing into the box to meet the Frenchman’s cross, but was denied by AIK’s goalkeeper Stramatopoulous.

Ten minutes before halftime Lindegaard produced his second save of the night as he denied Igboananike from a tight angle, having previously stood his ground, after Mutumba had got in behind Rafael only to squandered a one-on-one chance. Lindegaard’s halfitme substitute, Ben Amos, had no such luck as he was beaten by a superb strike from Robin Quaison less than five minutes after the restart.

Evans went off injured, before Vidic headed just over the bar from a Ryan Giggs’ corner. Meanwhile, United’s other replacement, Angelo Henriquez, who had looked lively since replacing Nani, drew United level as he tapped Zaha’s cross into the empty net with 67 minutes gone, yet another youngster emerging in this pre-season tour.

The 19-year-old wasted last season on loan at Wigan but, based on what he’s shown tonight and with the Reserves, would greatly benefit from another loan spell, particularly one that could guarantee him regular playing time. Regular playing time is a luxury David Moyes has awarded Anderson throughout this tour and the Brazilian miraculously managed to complete another 90 minutes, the equivalent of completing back-to-back triathlon races for him.

There was more entertainment to come, as Bebe replaced Ryan Giggs for the last 12 minutes and after looking completely, and rather familiarly, out of his depth with his first touch, he went to produce a couple of decent crosses and he even thought about taking his man on, an altogether more enterprising attitude than Ashley Young displayed throughout the whole of last season.

We might not get another signing, we might lose Rooney, but if pre-season friendlies are anything to go by, this season promises to be a good laugh.


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