Almost two months ago Hong Kong braced itself for a sea of red of epic proportions, as the British and Irish Lions kicked off their successful Australian tour with a win against Barbarians in the former British colony’s national stadium. The venue that had represented the first step towards glory for Warren Gatland’s men, was instead United’s last port of call in the first leg of their summer tour.
With performances on the pitch throughout the tour having somewhat resembled the impasse in the transfer window, United left South East Asia after a convincing win over Kitchee, a decent team but nowhere near as equipped as the sides United had come across during their stay Japan.
The Hong Kong Stadium’s turf was arguably United’s toughest opponent, as days of torrential rain had left the pitch resembling something between a beach and a mud bath, the surface wobblier than a freshly plowed garden, and David Moyes will be relieved his team escaped without any injuries.
With sweltering humidity and the pitch resembling a beach, David Moyes opted for Anderson in midfield, continuing a meticulous plan designed to ensure the Brazilian sweats as much as humanly possible in a rather audacious bid to make him shed a few pounds. Michael Carrick, Ashley Young and Wilfried Zaha joined Anderson in midfield, with Tom Cleverley supporting Danny Welbeck up-front, while Fabio, Ben Amos and Michael Keane earned rare start at the back, alongside Patrice Evra and Chris Smalling.
United had toiled throughout their last two games but were quickly in front against Kitchee, Michael Carrick displaying the sort of awareness that was so pivotal for United last season by picking out Ashley Young with a superb floated ball that the former Villa man smashed against the near post, before Danny Welbeck converted the rebound into the empty net.
Soon after Welbeck turned provider, his cross perfectly chested down by Zaha, who looked to set to notch his second goal in as many games before skying the finish over the bar. The former Palace man was impressive yet again, his pace causing no end of trouble to the hosts as the youngster put down an even bolder claim for a starting place when the league finally kicks off.
With 21 minutes gone, United were two goals up, Smalling rising to meet an excellent cross from Tom Cleverley, before Fabio pounced on a lovely ball from Zaha to slot the ball in the back of the net as United had the game in the bag after only 26 minutes. Januzaj, Buttner and Lingard replaced Welbeck, Evra and the ineffectual Ashley Young at half-time, while Anderson continued to have a relative stormer by his own – poor – standards.
The three replacements quickly combined to put United four goals ahead, Januzaj heading Buttner’s cross into the net, before Kitchee captain Lam Ka Wai gave the locals something to cheer about as he unleashed a thunderous left-footed effort from the edge of the box that left Ben Amos no chance.
Amos was beaten again nine minutes later as Alex Alkande turned Alex Buttner inside out before cooly converting with his right foot as Kitchee briefly threatened to come back into the game with only 20 minutes left. Buttner, for all his effort, is emerging as an increasingly weak link in United’s back four, particularly when faced by quick opponents.
Rafael and Phil Jones replaced Fabio and Carrick, before Jesse Lingard provided the goal of the night as he curled a superb effort into the top right corner with consummate ease, grabbing his fourth goal of the tour.
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