A first-half opener from the Italian guaranteed the Red Devils a positive start to their pre-season preparations as Shinji Kagawa made a late cameo for his debut
Manchester United opened their pre-season account on a high note with a 1-0 win over South African side Amazulu on Tuesday night.
A first-half goal from Federico Macheda ensured the Red Devils recorded a positive start to their summer tour.
Sir Alex Ferguson selected a mid-strength side, with the likes of Paul Scholes, Javier Hernandez and Rio Ferdinand all starting amongst a vibrant atmosphere in Durban with many locals celebrating the birthday of Nelson Mandela, who turned 94 on Tuesday.
The first opportunity of the game went in favour of the visitors, Federico Macheda received a strong ball from outside the box before working his way into a dangerous position and providing a promising volley to Hernandez, who failed to connect before promising youngster Jesse Lingard latched onto a Robert Brady pass only to see the ball cleared for a corner.
Amazulu’s first chance of note came in the form of a Ayanda Dlamini off-target looping effort which caught the United defence out, only to see Macheda run up the other end and break the deadlock after 20 minutes to give United a 1-0 lead.
The Italian ran into a Wootton delivery with blistering pace before running through on goal and slotting a cool finish past Kapini in the Amazulu goal.
The home side replied in aggressive fashion with a barrage of shots courtesy of frontman Dlamini. Namely, the striker’s impressive edge-of-the-area pop-shot called for a strong save from Lindegaard in the United goal.
Despite an improved performance from their South African opponents, United looked close to recording a second on the half-hour mark. A combination of smart skills from Berbatov dazzled the Amazulu defence before playing in Brady on the left-hand side. The youngster’s run attracted the attention of Kapini, who cleared his cross with relative ease.
The pair combined again soon after as a wonderfully taken Brady corner dropped to Berbatov, who let fly from the 18-yard line only to find his thunderous effort met with a Kalpini save.
Amazulu responded aggressively after the break as Dlamini took advantage of a Carrick slip-up to propel himself through on goal only to find the angle too narrow to beat Lindegaard.
The half’s early flurry of chances eventually fizzled out, resulting in a scrappy affair mostly held up in the middle of the pitch.
United saw two changes on the hour mark, Macheda took to the field in place of Anderson, with Brady also being replaced by Tyler Blackett.
And moments after coming on, Blackett almost gifted Amazulu with a penalty-kick after taking down an attacker in the United box with a clumsy challenge. The challenge instead saw the Red Devils awarded with a free-kick in Blackett’s favour.
Three Amazulu changes in the 65th minute encouraged the hosts to threaten the United defence. Vilakizi did well to hold up the ball before passing it to Johnson, who’s foot took an unfortunate connection with the ball resulting in his effort cruising well-wide.
A muted performance from Paul Scholes came to an end after 70 minutes when the United veteran was replaced by Ryan Tunnicliffe. Jesse Lingard, who looked promising early-on but ultimately fell foul to fatigue, made way for Davide Petrucci.
Substitute goalkeeper Mzimela did well to prevent Amazulu from doubling the Red Devils’ lead by blocking a thunderous Hernandez shot from six-yards out.
The dying embers of the game witnessed a scrappy affair, with a Petrucci effort from 20-yards out being the only chances of the final moments.
New signing Kagawa made his United debut just before stoppage time, much to the delight of the Durban crowd, but time wasn't on his side as his first-appearances ended on a muted noted as a United emerged 1-0 victors on the night.