Victory for United

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The Independent Online

The Japanese fans had come to see David Beckham, but instead it was United's other wing king Ryan Giggs who produced the moment of skill that won Manchester United the Toyota Cup.

The Japanese fans had come to see David Beckham, but instead it was United's other wing king Ryan Giggs who produced the moment of skill that won Manchester United the Toyota Cup.

On 35 minutes Giggs produced a piece of classic wing play down the left when he sent over a deep cross, which completely deceived Palmeiras goalkeeper Marcos, and Roy Keane netted from close range.

Keane's strike made yet another piece of football history for Sir Alex Ferguson's trailblazers, and they have become the first British side to win the inter-continental challenge between the champions of Europe and South America.

With the huge trophy comes the title of the best team in the world, and the cynics could argue that United need not now bother going to Brazil to compete in FIFA's World Club Championship.

United's victory in the close contest in Tokyo's National Stadium will prove popular with the hordes of Japanese who had turned out to support them, decked in their Beckham shirts.

The Japanese certainly know how to put on a show, and the fans were treated to a laser and fireworks display before the game.

After such a build-up the first half was something of a disappointment.

Ferguson did his bit and fielded a strong side to do the match justice.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was deployed as a lone striker, with Beckham and Giggs supporting him down the flanks and Paul Scholes from midfield.

United fashioned the first chance inside the opening two minutes when Nicky Butt, who shrugged off his wrist injury to play, was fouled 25 yards out on the right and Beckham curled the free-kick just over.

Palmeiras' main attacking thrusts were coming from former Newcastle striker Faustino Asprilla who has lost none of the skills which used to delight the Toon Army.

From one chance he beat Mickael Silvestre in the area only for the dependable Jaap Stam to block his shot.

The Palmeiras fans thought their side should have had a penalty when Alex went down under a challenge from Silvestre just inside the area, but referee Hellmut Krug waved play on.

Mark Bosnich, who was arguably United's man of the match, came to his side's aid when first he made a fine stop from Alex, after the Palmeiras striker had been played in by Asprilla, before he saved a header from Junior.

United brought some life to the dull proceedings when they opened the scoring on 35 minutes when Giggs and Keane combined to score.

Butt went close to a second three minutes later with a 30-yard drive which was just wide of Marcos' left-hand post.

Silvestre preserved United's lead when he cleared Alex's header from his own goalline with his boot.

Solsjkaer had struggled up front, and it came as little surprise when he was replaced by Dwight Yorke at the interval.

The second half was much more open, and Yorke and Asprilla went close in the opening couple of minutes.

The game was finally living up to its billing as the world championship, and Sampaio made a great challenge on Scholes before the England midfielder flicked a backheeled effort over the bar and Butt went close with a curled effort.

Arce then gifted United possession, and Yorke fed Giggs only for the Welshman to shoot wide from the great opportunity.

The chances were coming thick and fast, and Bosnich smothered an effort from substitute Oseas before United screamed in vain for a penalty for a challenge on Yorke.

Alex remained a threat and he fired wide following a strong run before he headed just inches wide.

Palmeiras were getting closer, and Bosnich made a fantastic point-blank save from Oseas before he denied substitute Euller.

Bosnich continued to thwart the Brazilians and made another fingertip save from that man Alex again.

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