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Manchester United vs. Cerezo Osaka: Score, Grades and Post-Match Reaction

YOKOHAMA, JAPAN - JULY 23:  Shinji Kagawa of Manchester United in action during the pre-season freindly match between Yokohama F.Marinos and Manchester United at Nissan Stadium on July 23, 2013 in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan.  (Photo by Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images)
Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images
Timothy RappFeatured Columnist IVDecember 22, 2016

Manchester United may be having a difficult time winning games on its preseason tour, but against Cerezo Osaka, the team was able to at least earn a draw—erasing two deficits in a game that finished 2-2. 

Wilfried Zaha was the hero for Manchester United in this one, as his stoppage-time goal saved the Red Devils from a third loss in four preseason games. 

Robin van Persie nearly scored in the first minute. Ryan Giggs played a hopeful ball over the top that Cerezo's defenders made a mess of, putting the Dutch striker through on goal. However, his final product left a lot to be desired, firing into the legs of keeper Jin-Hyeon Kim.

Van Persie would leave another chance wanting in the 11th minute, again being played through on goal and again seeing his attempt rejected by the keeper. This time, Van Persie attempted to play a chip over Kim, but again couldn't take advantage of a golden opportunity. 

In the 19th minute, Anders Lindegaard would provide a brilliant save for United, as Jumpei Kusukami ripped a low shot from 20 yards out. Lindegaard managed to deflect the ball out of play and promptly stood tall on the corner, saving a header on frame. 

Cerezo should have taken the lead in the 26th minute, as Kusukami found Edno in the box. The forward, who simply needed to send his header either to the left or right, instead pushed it right into the arms of Lindegaard. 

Even so, Cerezo would get its goal in the 33rd minute. 

Chris Smalling inexplicably gave the ball away at the back and it fell to Kenyu Sugimoto, who wriggled himself into space and found the back of the net. 

United nearly equalized in the 41st minute, but former Cerezo man Shinji Kagawa blew the chance. After Danny Welbeck hit the post with his shot, the ball fell to Van Persie, who found Kagawa with space to operate in the box. Shockingly, Kagawa skied his shot well over the bar. 

United created several more chances down the stretch but couldn't capitalize, and Cerezo's 1-0 lead stood at the end of the first half. 

United would quickly equalize in the second half, but not before some drama. 

Ashley Young went on a brilliant run down the right flank, dribbling into the box before being fouled and earning a penalty.

Kagawa stepped to the spot against his old team, but missed the attempt.

The Japan international would redeem himself a minute later, as Giggs found him in the box and he turned quickly and put the ball in the back of the net. 

Wilfried Zaha came on for Kagawa in the 58th minute and nearly made an instant impact, beating two defenders and screaming a lost shot that beat the keeper but skittered just wide of the frame in the 62nd minute. 

It was a tough miss, as a minute later, Takumi Minamino would score the goal of the match. 

The forward found some space on the edge of the box and let it fly, blasting a shot into the top corner that Lindegaard was unable to stop. Things were looking bleak for the Red Devils. 

United continued to press, but headed into stoppage time trailing and in danger of losing their third game this preseason. 

That's when Zaha played the role of hero. 

Adnan Januzaj spearheaded the attack, rushing forward before playing a nice ball to Anderson in the box. The midfielder calmly laid a ball across to Zaha, who had to simply tap the ball into an empty net. 

The draw was preserved for United, as the game ended 2-2. 

 

Man of the Match: Wilfried Zaha, Manchester United

The young winger made an instant impact in this game, with his driving runs on the wing and several opportunities he created in the box. His equalizing goal was the cherry on top of a fine performance, and the second-half sub really changed the dynamic of this game for the Red Devils. 

It's hard not to get excited about this bright young talent. 

 

Grades

 

What's Next?

Manchester United will wrap up its July schedule by traveling to face Kitchee FC on July 29. Before you know it, the real games will begin, as the Red Devils take on Wigan in the Community Shield on August 11.  

 

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