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Tuesday July 21, 2009

Macheda, Owen strike early to kill off Malaysian hopes

KUALA LUMPUR: Manchester United made short work of Malaysia with Federico Macheda and new signing Michael Owens scoring a goal each to tame the young Malaysian side 2-0 at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil last night.

After Saturday’s close 3-2 win by the Red Devils, the 40,000 fans thought they would be in for a goal rush.

But it was not to be as a lethargic United started off like they were going for a stroll in the park.

Manchester United’s Gary Neville runs past Malaysia’s Indra Putra Mahayuddin during their friendly match at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil Monday.

Nevertheless, the visiting Premier League champions gave their local fans something to cheer with two simple goals by Macheda and Owen in the 11th and 13th minutes.

For Malaysia, it was a satisfactory performance after having given their all in Saturday’s match in which they played above expectations to fight back from two goals down to hold United to 2-2 before going down to Owen’s winner six minutes from time.

Alex Ferguson rested his super stars and decided to start off withOwen and Macheda up front.

The notable changes were the inclusion of England international Michael Carrick and Darren Fletcher, who did not play on Saturday.

Ben Foster kept goal while regular Edwin van der Sar was left out of the team.

Michael Owen and Shafiq Rahim tussle for the ball.

Both teams observed a minute’s silence before the kick-off as a mark of respect for the victims of Friday’s bombings in Jakarta.

Again, United raced to a quick lead, punishing the Malaysian defence with goals from Macheda in the 11th minute and Owen two minutes later.

Goalkeeper Mohd Farizal Marlias, who had an outstanding game on Saturday, could barely do much, no thanks to the disorganised Malaysian defence, which allowed the visitors to sneak in two early goals.

The Malaysian defence was caught napping when Fletcher sent in a low cross for an unmarked Macheda to easily tap in for the first goal.

Owen then pounced on a loose ball inside the box to hit it first-timer past a hapless Mohd Farizal two minutes later.

Owen could have increased his tally but the woodwork denied the former Liverpool striker’s long range effort at the half-hour mark.

The Malaysians, who had put up a spirited performance on Saturday, looked lethargic and barely made any impact in the first-half.

Mohd Amri Yahyah, who scored a brace against the Red Devils barely had a shot at goal and was at sea for most of the match.

Only towards the end of the match did Ferguson bring in crowd favourite Wayne Rooney and the other first team players – Dimitar Berbatov, Nani and Anderson.

The substitutions provided the spark missing from the match and had the Malaysian defence in sixes and sevens.

The fans even got to see the temperamental side of Rooney when he pushed Malaysian goalkeeper Mohd Farizal after an aerial challenge.

Malaysia’s best chances came in the dying minutes.

Mohd Khyril Muhymeen broke loose from the right and his cross was just too fast for Ahmad Shakir to connect.

Then Norsharul Idlan Talaha fired a stinger from inside the box only to see substitute keeper Tomasz Kuszczak keeping it out.

Malaysia: Mohd Farizal Marlias, Mohd Asraruddin Putra (Mohd Azmi Muslim), Norhafiz Zamani Misbah (Mohd Muslim Ahmad), Mohd Aidil Zafuan, Mohd Zaquan Adha (Norsharul Idlan Talaha), Shafiq Rahim (K. Gurusamy), Indra Putra Mahayuddin (Ahmad Shakir Ali), S. Kunalan (Mohd Khyril Muhymeen), Mohd Amri Yahyah (Badrul Bakhtiar), Mazl izam Mohd (V. Thirumurugan (Sabree Mat Abu)), Mohd Bunyamin Umar (Amar Rohidan).

Manchester United: Ben Foster (Tomasz Kuszczak), Gary Neville (Nani), Wes Brown, Michael Owen (Dimitar Berbatov),Ryan Giggs (Paul Scholes), Zoran Tosic, Michael Carrick (Anderson), Fabio da Silva (Patrice Evra), Jonny Evans (Rio Ferdinand), Darren Fletcher (Darren Gibson), Federico Macheda (Wayne Rooney).

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