Despite scoring twice in a frantic five-minute period at the start of the second half, United ended the first Asia Tour match on level terms with Urawa Red Diamonds in Tokyo's Saitama Stadium.
Inspired by goals from Darren Fletcher and Cristiano Ronaldo, the Reds overturned a 1-0 half-time deficit to take the lead on 52 minutes. But drizzly conditions and a late equaliser from home crowd favourite Shinji Ono put a dampener on proceedings.
Despite the rain, both sides were determined to keep the ball on the ground and Paul Scholes was particularly effective early on, orchestrating United's attacks from the centre of midfield. Cristiano Ronaldo didn't disappoint his admirers either, pulling out his party tricks as early as the second minute.
The Portuguese winger, who drew cheers with every touch, forced Urawa Reds goalkeeper Tsuzuki into his first save on 25 minutes when he shot fiercely towards the near post.
But a minute later, the Premier League champions were behind. Urawa's Hideki Uchidate found space in the United half and let fly from 30 yards with a shot that swerved wickedly past Edwin van der Sar. In fact, the deviation was so severe, van der Sar was left diving in the wrong direction.
Urawa threatened again four minutes later but then seemed content to settle on the ball. So it was left to Wayne Rooney to inject a little sparkle into the match. With 43 minutes on the clock, Rooney provided an inch-perfect cross for Paul Scholes, but the midfielder could only steer his header into the arms of a grateful Tsuzuki.
A minute later, the England striker had everyone at the Saitama Stadium on their feet after coming within a whisker of a spectacular equaliser. Rooney picked up the ball inside the United half before turning on the speed to brush aside what seemed