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Club Friendlies

  • 21 July 2012
  • • 18:30
  • • Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town

Ajax Cape Town 1-1 Manchester United: Bebe grabs late equaliser as Kagawa impresses in first start for Premier League side

Ajax Cape Town 1-1 Manchester United: Bebe grabs late equaliser as Kagawa impresses in first start for Premier League side

Portuguese striker scores in stoppage time to save Sir Alex Ferguson's side's blushes after Alcardo Van Graan's goal looked like it had given the South African team the win

Bebe scored a late equaliser to save Manchester United’s blushes as they drew 1-1 in their second pre-season game against Ajax Cape Town.

The striker pounced on a loose ball in the South African’s side’s area firing the ball past into an empty net after keeper Sander Westerveld and his defenders were beaten by Marnick Vermijl’s accurate cross.

Ajax thought they had won the game in the 87th minute when Alcardo van Graan looped Khama Billiat’s cross over Ben Amos and into the net after he beat his marker inside the six-yard box but the 22-year-old’s strike saved Sir Alex Ferguson’s side from defeat.

Ferguson made several changes from his United team that beat Amazulu 1-0 in their opening pre-season fixture. The Scot handed Shinji Kagawa his full debut for the Red Devils, while Anderson and Antonio Valencia made their first starts of the summer.

Paul Scholes, Michael Carrick, Rio Ferdinand and Javier Hernandez, retained their places from the opening game.

The Red Devils struggled for rhythm in the early stages of the match as they often gave the ball away cheaply in the final third of the pitch, with Anderson being particularly wasteful when in an advanced position.

Ajax Cape Town should have taken the lead when Billiat was played behind the United defence and put one-on-one with Ben Amos but he couldn’t find the target firing his left-footed shot wide of the post.

The home side were looking dangerous and Ferguson’s men were grateful to Tyler Blackett who made a great block to deny Thembinkosi Fanteni’s goal-bound effort after the striker had found space inside the area.

United finally carved out an opening in the 34th minute when Wootton raided down the right and hit a sublime cross towards the penalty spot where he found Hernandez who headed the ball towards goal but Westerveld made an excellent save tipping the effort round the post.

Carrick and Scholes were struggling to take control of the midfield with many misplaced passes which often put the visitors on the back. Paul Rusike nearly made them pay for one mistake when the hosts hit them on the counter but his shot from outside the area hit the bar before going over.

United came out in the second half with more impetus and Kagawa, who was anonymous for most of the opening period, came to life and found Hernandez with a lovely through ball but the Mexican slipped at the crucial moment spurning the opportunity.

Valencia was finding space on the right with ease and he used this freedom along with his pace to float a cross towards Hernandez who was unmarked in the area but the ball frustratingly just evaded his head in what would have been a certain goal if he had made contact.

The Red Devils were really starting to hit their stride and should have taken the lead through Kagawa but he somehow missed the target from just five yards out with a header after being expertly found by Hernandez with a pinpoint cross.

Despite United’s dominance in the second-half, Ajax still looked dangerous on the break and Fanteni almost broke the deadlock after being put behind the Red Devils defence but Amos was equal to his shot making a good save to turn the ball past the post.

This was proven as they took the lead with just three minutes as Van Graan met Billiat’s corner beating his marker and managed to loop the ball over Amos into the net much to the delight of the home crowd and his team-mates.

However this joy was short-lived when Bebe latched on Vermijl’s cross firing a right-footed volley into the net from six-yards to save the Red Devils from succumbing to defeat after dominating for the majority of the game.