Manchester United’s pre-season tour to Asia kicked off with a 2-2 draw with J-League champions Urawa Reds in Saitama tonight.
United last played the Reds in 2005 winning 2-0 with a goal from Wayne Rooney being the highlight of the match.
This time it was 2-2 at Saitama Stadium. United’s goals came from Darren Fletcher and Cristiano Ronaldo, Urawa replying with strikes from Hideki Uchidate and Shinji Ono in front of a passionate home crowd.
Urawa partially model themselves on Manchester United, with a lot of Bayern Munich thrown in to the mix. The Mancunian Red Devils traditionally include a fixture with the team from the working class suburbs of Tokyo on their pre-season East Asian money-making jaunts.
A 4-1 loss has never been so satisfying.
Co-host Vietnam squeaked into the quarterfinals of the Asian Cup on Monday as Group B runners-up, despite receiving a footballing lesson from defending champions Japan at My Dinh Stadium.
Vietnam booked their ticket to the knockout round in place of Qatar, who crashed out of the competition with a 2-1 loss to the United Arab Emirates in Ho Chi Minh.
News of that loss triggered wild celebrations across Hanoi that lasted well into the night. The humbling loss to Japan was quickly forgotten, as was the match-fixing scandal that sent seven of the team’s players to jail only three months before the tournament. Monday night was all about celebrating the present; there was no need …