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United stumble to defeat in Japan

Manchester-United-V-Yokohama-F-Marinos-2080440Japan might well be the land of the rising sun, but David Moyes has endured a rather gloomy dawn to his Manchester United career so far, as the Reds fell to their second defeat in three pre-season games, after losing 3-2 against the Yokohama F-Marinos earlier today.

Yokohama’s stadium has witnessed football matches much more important than this, namely the 2002 World Cup final between Brazil and Germany, yet the roar that welcomed home star Shinji Kagawa on the pitch for his 29-minute cameo was arguably louder than any the venue had ever experienced.

As far as United were concerned, there was little else that could have inspired a cheer, let alone a roar, as the Reds were caught napping 25 seconds into the game as Marquinhos’ 25-yard thunderbolt forced David De Gea into an excellent save, before the Brazilian stormed into the box unchallenged to have a second bite of the cherry and put the home side 1-0 in front.

On a muggy night that was a far cry from the brisk winterish conditions United had experienced in Australia, Moyes opted to field only six first-team regulars – David De Gea, Robin van Persie, Patrice Evra, Jonny Evans, Tom Cleverley and Phil Jones – with Fabio, Wilfried Zaha, Anderson and the excellent Adnan Januzaj and Jesse Lingard also on the pitch.

United lived dangerously at the back, with Januzaj clearing a corner off the line, before De Gea repelled another effort from Marquinhos, while United could not muster any significant chances in the first 20 minutes of the game, during which David Moyes’ men looked as lethargic as Anderson on his way back from an “all you can eat” buffet.

With 19 minutes gone, Jesse Lingard netted his third goal of the tour after some brilliant work from Wilfried Zaha allowed the 20-year-old to fire at goal from inside the box. Masakazu Tashiro blocked Lingard’s first effort but the ball fell back to the United striker who made no mistake and drew United level.

Zaha showed again glimpses of talent, however raw it might be, and strengthened his claim for a starting berth on the wing in official encounters, particularly considering that Ashley Young, Antonio Valencia and Nani hardly look like fearsome rivals at the moment, even though there’s still another month to go before the Premier League season kicks off.

Masakazu Tashiro’s own goal following a floated free-kick from Adnan Januzaj put United in front, but the Reds surrendered their lead in the second half as Yokohama’s own Fabio headed home just after the restart, before Jin Hanato picked out  Yoshihito Fujita who rifled past David De Gea with less than three minutes to go.

Pre-season friendlies’ results are of relative importance and while there may be no cause for concern as yet, apart from Lingard, Januzaj and, to a lesser extent, Zaha, United are yet to offer an auspicious message for the forthcoming season. Luckily for us, there are a couple of world class signings on the way.

Well, one can always dream, right?