Ferguson finds consolation at end of a troubled tour

Urawa Red Diamonds 0 Manchester United 2
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But just past the hour mark, the England striker showed why he is regarded as one of the most prodigious talents in the game, winning possession himself, then slipping past three attempted tackles before calmly beating Tsuzuki with a magnificent 10-yard chip which sailed into the top corner. In front of a 58,389 crowd - taking the aggregate to more than 100,000 on the Japanese leg of the trip - it was the perfect way to end a trip, although Rio Ferdinand was still barracked at the end by United supporters high up in the Saitama Stadium.

After the controversies of the last 48 hours, Ferdinand was spared greater humiliation by spending the contest on the bench. On the final whistle though, irate Red Devils fans reiterated their belief the England defender is being 'greedy' holding out for extra cash above his current �100,000-a-week contract offer. Fortunately, from that distance, Ferdinand almost certainly did not hear.

After all the negative headlines that have followed United around this week, there was nothing to worry the club's public relations machine during a drab opening period. Rooney did commit a couple of fouls, and offer referee Joji Kashihara the benefit of his opinion after one decision had gone against him but the England striker generally kept his temper well under control.

All that changed within five minutes of the re-start as the former Everton man was booked and then opened the scoring within a action-packed 60 seconds. Rooney had spent a lot of the first-half drifting deep to try to set up United attacks, although his efforts met with little success as the draining humidity and understandable tiredness at the end of a four-match, 10-day tour took its effect. He did manage the only meaningful United shot a minute before the break, fizzing an effort just wide but as they trooped in at half-time, defeat looked more likely than victory for the visitors. However, for all their industry and neat approach play, the Diamonds found it hard to carve out any clear-cut chances of their own.

Nobuhisa Yamada's lay-off provided dangerman Yuichiro Nagai with a shooting opportunity but from an acute angle, Edwin van der Sar proved equal to his well-struck effort. The giant Dutchman was also right behind a Keita Suzuki effort that whistled over the bar from 25 yards. It took the half-time introduction of Cristiano Ronaldo to spark United into life. The 20-year-old winger's dazzling skills have earmarked him as a potential marketing tool to replace David Beckham, still the ultimate hero in these parts.

Ronaldo was quick to show the range of his abilities, bursting through the home midfield at lightning speed, only for Rooney's return pass to go astray. The Portuguese winger opted to go it alone the next time he seized possession, adding a thunderous 30-yard effort to his dart forward, the ball dipping at the last moment, forcing Ryota Tsuzuki to palm it hurriedly aside. Rooney made his presence felt a couple of minutes later, although not before his mouth had earned him a booking, Kashihara deciding his protests at the award of a free-kick against Scholes had gone too far.

If his first effort was a direct result of his amazing strength, Rooney's second showed off the subtle skills housed in his thick-set body. Even the ultra-loyal home fans who packed into one end rose to acclaim the delicate chip which sailed over Tsuzuki. There was a worrying moment for Ferguson midway through the second period when Kieran Richardson, whose short-term Red Devils future remains in doubt, limped off after coming off worse in a hefty challenge.

Phil Neville, eager to prove his own future lies at Old Trafford, quickly showed his appetite for the contest with a late lunge on Horinouchi which also earned a booking. It was the prelude to a full-blooded final 20 minutes, which threatened to boil over but did not quite, Rooney escaping expulsion for an ill-advised tackle from behind.

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