Singha 80th Anniversary Cup
Saturday 13 July
Rajamangala Stadium, Bangkok
SINGHA ALL STAR XI 1
MANCHESTER UNITED 0
David Moyes’ first game in charge of Manchester United didn’t quite go to plan, as the Reds slipped to a 1-0 defeat against a Singha All Star XI in Bangkok, Thailand.
In stifling conditions – the match kicked off in 29-degree heat, with 75 per cent humidity – United struggled early on to create clear-cut chances and dictate the pace of the game.
Of course, it’s worth remembering the Reds started slowly under Sir Alex Ferguson last year too, netting only three goals in the first five tour matches. And the season that followed that summer drought didn’t end too badly…
Here in Bangkok, though, the night belonged to All Star captain Terratep Winothai, who netted the only goal of the game on 50 minutes when he scuffed a cross past Ben Amos at the near post. Although the home side had threatened before then, the strike surprised the majority of the 50,000 fans packed into the Rajamangala Stadium.
United, of course, had arrived in Thailand as Premier League champions and overwhelming favourites. But in Bangkok, a city of some seven million vehicles, it was never going to be one-way traffic.
With just five minutes on the clock, Winothai sprung United’s offside trap and found himself bearing down on Reds goalkeeper Ben Amos. The winger took an age to pull the trigger, though, allowing Jonny Evans time to recover and block the shot.
Moyes’ side soon settled, although didn’t muster a shot of note until the 22nd minute, Adnan Januzaj sidefooting Fabio’s teasing right-wing delivery over the bar from close range. The new Reds boss had made clear his intention to give youth a chance and, true to his word, his first selection as Manchester United manager included last year’s Denzil Haroun Young Player of the Year.
Januzaj was involved again just after the half-hour mark, jinking past his marker before firing a cross just beyond Danny Welbeck at the back post. If he was nervous in this, his first involvement in a senior fixture, he certainly didn’t look it.
Alexander Büttner left the pitch on 34 minutes with what appeared to be a hamstring injury and the disruption to the Reds’ back four – Rafael came on and Fabio switched to the left – allowed Winothai space behind the central defenders again.
This time he was more positive and lashed the bouncing ball goalwards from 15 yards. Amos was equal to the task, however, and produced a stunning one-handed save to keep the score at 0-0.
Although the Thai fans – 50,000 of them – had largely come to see United, the stadium erupted five minutes after the interval when Winothai, who’d looked far and away the liveliest All Star, broke the deadlock.
Welbeck and Fabio both tested goalkeeper Narit Taweekul shortly afterwards before Ryan Giggs found the net on 63 minutes. His effort was ruled out for offside in the build-up, however, and that was Giggs’ (and Anderson and Cleverley’s) last involvement in the game, as they made way for a trio of changes.
Among them was winger Wilfried Zaha, making his first appearance in a Reds shirt after his move from Crystal Palace. But it was Januzaj who next came close, forcing Taweekul into a fine stop when he attempted to curl a low shot inside the stopper’s right-hand post.
Zaha and Welbeck both missed presentable chances before the new recruit smacked a stunning effort against the far post with just eight minutes to play. That sparked a mini onslaught on the Thai goal in the closing stages, but Taweekul and his defenders stood firm to notch a famous victory and lift the Singha 80th Anniversary Cup.
United: Amos; Fabio (Evra 78), Ferdinand, Evans, Büttner (Rafael 34); Carrick, Anderson (Zaha 63), Cleverley (Jones 63), Giggs (Lingard 63); Januzaj, Welbeck