Fri, 24 Jul 2009

Manchester United Asia Tour 2009 - FC Seoul vs Manchester United

KOREA - United made it three victories out of three in the toughest test of the Asia tour so far, beating FC Seoul 3-2 with goals from Wayne Rooney, Federico Macheda and Dimitar Berbatov, while Ji-sung Park was warmly-received on his homecoming. 

The 64,000 capacity Korean crowd had been baying for an appearance from their hero since he first emerged for the warm-up, but they would have to wait for a fifteen-minute cameo late on as the midfielder was named on a ten-man bench. 

Another United player looking to make his mark was Federico Macheda, handed his second consecutive start on this Asia Tour, which suggests the 17-year-old may feature prominently this season. Indeed, pre-match, Sir Alex described him as a "hero in the making". And Macheda was the creator of United's first real opening. Charging down the left channel, he cut inside and squared his pass to Ryan Giggs, but the Welshman miscalculated his volley and swung an air-shot with his right boot. 

At the other end Tomasz Kuszczak needed to be alert to deal with a few early attempts on goal from the home side, efforts which he dealt with admirably. 

Any time the stadium's big screens showed Park sat studiously on the bench, the Seoul crowd leapt up in rapturous applause as if they'd just witnessed a goal. And that's exactly what they saw after 24 minutes, although it didn't go the way even the most optimistic locals would have predicted. 

A beautifully flighted pass over the top caught United's defence cold, and the dangerous Dejan Damjanovic stole in and poked the ball past Kuszczak to give FC Seoul the lead. 

It didn't take long for United to restore parity, however, and there was little surprise over who scored it. Rooney had shown some nice touches in any forays forward and he was perfectly placed to head home John O'Shea's curling cross. 

Wes Brown, who is thankfully enjoying an uninterrupted pre-season after last term's injury woes, was on hand to stop Damjanovic scoring a second. Shortly before half-time the Montenegro international had just Brown and Kuszczak to beat to put Seoul in front, but the Reds defender produced a brilliant block to clear the danger. 

However, Damjanovic had the final say in a competitive first half, again unlocking United's defence to dink his finish over the onrushing Kuszczak. With United 2-1 down at the halfway stage, this was certainly proving to be the Reds' sternest challenge in Asia this summer. 

There were two changes at the break, with Edwin van der Sar replacing Kuszczak and Darron Gibson coming on for Darren Fletcher. There was more purpose about United's play, highlighted by an equaliser shortly before the hour mark. Rooney's lofted pass found the run of Macheda and the Italian teenager let his natural instincts take over. He rounded the keeper before his elevated finish beat the last defender. 

It was Macheda's last touch - he was replaced by Michael Owen on 61 minutes, as part of four substitutions, which saw Rooney, Giggs and Anderson all exit to be replaced by Dimitar Berbatov, Paul Scholes and Nani. Sir Alex's substitutions were clearly making the difference. Gibson, on at half time, did really well on the right flank to cross for new arrival Berbatov to nod in at the near post to give the Reds a 3-2 lead. 

United had taken greater control and, combined with Seoul's earlier enthusiasm ebbing away, were firmly in the driving seat. But the largest cheer of the night or, more accurately, a deafening celebration was saved for the 74th minute when Park replaced Michael Carrick. The fans inside the World Cup Stadium were delirious but, after all, two years ago when United were in Korea Park missed out due to injury. 

Scholes hit the bar late on after a nice interchange with Park, who was being willed by 64,000 fans to score on home turf, but there were no further goals in what was still an entertaining match and a good work-out. 

Team Line-ups: 

United: Kuszczak (Van der Sar 46); O'Shea, Ferdinand, Brown, Evra (Fabio 74); Fletcher (Gibson 46), Anderson (Nani 61), Carrick (Park 74), Giggs (Scholes 61); Rooney (Berbatov 61), Macheda (Owen 61). 
Subs not used: Evans, Tosic.

FC Seoul: Kim H J (Park D S 46 (Kang 88)); Kim C G (Jung 46 (Moon 70)), Park Y H (Ki 70), Lee J M (Ahn 46), Adilson; Kim J K, Kim S Y (Ou 43 (Sim 88)), Koh (Kim C W 58), Kim H Y (Lee S H 70); Damjanovic (Jung 58), Lee S Y (Go 46) 

[This article is also available at Manchester United Official Website.]

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