Hat-trick for Giggs in Chinese demolition
Hangzhou G'Town 2 Manchester United 8
Monday 27 July 2009
Hangzhou's great attraction is its vast, pagoda-lined lake and, at the end of a thoroughly chastening night, Greentown's manager Zhou Sui'an must have wanted to hurl himself into its deepest parts.
Eight is supposed to be a lucky number in China but not this time. The Yellow Dragon Stadium played host to the final, and by far the most impressive, match of Manchester United's Asian tour. The only member of Sir Alex Ferguson's squad who would have cause to regret the evening was Wayne Rooney, who somehow failed to find the net amid the carnage.
In the half-hour Ryan Giggs was on the pitch he scored his first hat-trick since he was a junior footballer and celebrated with a shy, almost embarrassed grin. Michael Owen, who for some reason has yet to play a minute on the same pitch as Rooney, took his tally on the tour to four goals in as many games. Patrice Evra hit the frame of the goal twice while Anderson, who has never scored for United in any kind of football, struck the post. It was, however, Dimitar Berbatov, who produced the touches and flicks that had this been a cricket match would have brought David Gower to mind. He scored one gorgeous volley and had a hand in all five of the others scored while he was playing, setting up Nani and Zoran Tosic beautifully.
As the season approaches, Ferguson has admitted that his one concern is how United can replace the 26 goals Cristiano Ronaldo scored last season. This tour might have given a faint clue and the Audi Cup in Munich, where United will share the stage with Boca Juniors, Milan and Bayern, will give a firmer one.
"Things are looking good for us in that position," Ferguson said. "This is not the acid test for Michael Owen but given his ability and understanding of play around the last third, I think he will get goals. We have young Frederico Macheda, the experience of Berbatov and, of course, there are the expectations we all have of Wayne Rooney."
Manchester United: (4-4-2) Van der Sar (Foster h-t); F Da Silva, Ferdinand (Brown, 60), Evans, Evra; Nani (Park 60), Fletcher (Giggs, 60), Scholes (Anderson 60), Tosic; Berbatov (Gibson 71), Owen (Rooney h-t).
Don and dusted: AFC defeat FC United
*AFC Wimbledon of the Blue Square Premier won the Supporters Direct Cup on Saturday after coming out on top of FC United, 2-0, in the battle between the two most high-profile supporter-run start-up clubs in England.
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