A solid test in the Nigerian capital of Abuja saw United’s unbeaten pre-season campaign continue, with the Reds running out 2-1 winners against Portsmouth.
Second-half goals from Chris Eagles and Carlos Tevez gave United a deserved win in what was a decent work-out against Premier League opposition, a side that will become familiar foes in the coming weeks. This is the first of three matches in the space of a month against Harry Redknapp’s men; there’s also the Community Shield at Wembley on 10 August, then the league encounter two weeks later at Fratton Park.
United were without Wayne Rooney for this match, he suffered a dead leg against Kaizer Chiefs on Saturday, while Ben Foster was also out with a knock. Sir Alex continued to give young players a chance, with Jonny Evans, Darron Gibson, Eagles and Fraizer Campbell included from the start.
The Reds began brightly and were controversially denied a fifth-minute opener. Glen Johnson fouled Campbell inside the area, giving Tevez the chance to score from the spot. He expertly sent David James the wrong way, but the referee ordered a retake for an encroachment into the box. Having previously plumped for placement, Tevez chose power but could only look on as his second attempt rattled the bar.
Despite a dramatic start, the game was played at a relatively conservative pace, perhaps due to the heat – humid 28oC temperatures at kick-off – or the fact that both teams had played matches the day before. However, any openings were coming from United; Chris Eagles missed a one-on-one with James midway through the half, then Campbell spurned a chance from a similar position on 35 minutes.
In the second half Jermain Defoe was first to go close, forcing an excellent low save from the rarely-tested Tomasz Kuszczak. But five minutes after the restart United, and Eagles specifically, made amends for missed first-half