Nani Strikes Again
Manchester United ended their pre-season Tour of Asia with a comfortable 3-0 win over Chinese side Guangzhou Pharmaceutical, with Utd new-boy Nani getting on the score sheet.
Sir Alex Ferguson sided a visibly weakened team for Utd`s final match of the tour of Asia, with stars such as Van Der Sar, Giggs, Ronaldo left out, as well as Hargreaves and Scholes due to injury.
However, this gave Sir Alex the chance to field some of his youngsters, with Phil Bardsley, Danny Simpson and Darron Gibson all given starts. Sir Alex also used the chance to show Utd fans another glimpse of new-boy, Nani, in addition to giving Chinese international, Dong Fangzhou a chance to shine in front of his home fans.
The match, unlike those of previous games in the Tour started slowly, with the Chinese sides seemingly willing to soak up the pressure, which prevented Utd from playing their usual, expansive style of play. Having said that, Utd did manage to create a few early chances, most notably Dong Fangzhou`s header on 15 minutes which narrowly missed the target.
However, on 20 minutes Guangzhou were left to rue their decision to play defensively when Michael Carrick was fouled in the box, with Wayne Rooney slotting home the penalty effortlessly. However, the goal failed to spark the game into life and Utd had to wait until just before the second half to net again when Nani, who performed admirably all night, managed to lob the keeper from outside the box at a very acute angle. The strike left everyone in the stadium on their feet, and capped an impressive performance by United`s new Portuguese signing, who`s comparison with Cristiano Ronaldo seems to grow everyday.
Utd continued to dominate in the second half with Guangzhou providing little offensively, and it was left to another United youngster, Lee Martin to cap of the scoring when his excellent swerving drive from 30 yards out, smashed into the back of the net.
The game opened up on 58 minutes with both teams taking the opportunity to makes substitutions with the likes of Evra, Smith, Silvestre and Brown all given opportunities to regain vital match fitness ahead of the new campaign. However, despite all the goals, the biggest cheer of the night came on 76 minutes, when Sir Alex handed Cristiano Ronaldo, who had been feared injured before the match, an chance to delight the thousands of Chinese fans, and despite being on just over 13 minutes, Ronaldo still managed to show why he gained so many plaudits last season.
Speaking after the match to MUTV, Sir Alex spoke of his delight at how the tour had gone.
'It was very, very hot for them, at half-time there was a lot of fluid taken. But we won 3-0 and I think overall it was a very good tournament for us. I've been pleased with all of the goals, it is confidence-building for the new season when you go into a pre-season game and get that tempo and rhythm.'
Ferguson then went to speak about United new signing, Nani, who`s current record reads two games and two goals.
'There's no problem, but he needs a lot of work; he has not had a lot of endurance work but there will be plenty of games for him before the season starts.'
After the game, United`s other Portuguese winger, Cristiano Ronaldo echoed his bosses comments, speaking of his delight at how the tour had gone, and taking the opportunity to thank the Asian fans for all their support throughout.
'It's a great opportunity to come to Asia. Here in Asia you have a lot of support and you see in these games how much everyone enjoys it. For me it's important the fans like us, not just me but all the players. It's important for us because United are so big all over the world and I'm very proud of that.'
Speaking on behalf of his personal performances throughout the tournament, Ronaldo seemed happy and raring to go for the new season.
'It's very good for me. I feel fit and I'm very happy for that. But I must keep my form going. The Premiership starts soon and I must be ready for that. I hope to play well. My ambition is still the same - I want to play well, score goals and provide assists. I tried to do the same last year and I worked hard to do that. I hope things come good for me.'
United then went on to talk about United`s signings to date, praising all three on the effect they will have on the team.
'We have signed three fantastic players and I hope they never leave. They will be great for the club and the team.'