Michael Owen secured a 3-2 victory for the Reds in their opening Asia Tour match on Saturday, coming off the bench to fire the winner on his debut against a hard-working Malaysian XI.
Sir Alex’s men had earlier taken a 2-0 lead through Wayne Rooney and Nani. Rooney opened the scoring on eight minutes, tapping in from close range, and then turned provider for Nani, who finished with aplomb, 20 minutes later.
A stunning volley on half-time from Mohammed Amri Yahyah gave the hosts hope, before a mistake from Ben Foster seven minutes after the restart allowed Yahyah to grab his second. But Owen wrapped up the win with a cool finish five minutes from time.
In searing heat, the Reds were given a good workout by their enthusiastic and energetic opponents who were only five minutes away from a famous result.
Sir Alex picked a strong side for the match against a hugely inexperienced Malaysian side (only four players in their side were over 23), but opted to leave Owen on the bench. With Nemanja Vidic missing through injury, Jonny Evans partnered skipper Rio Ferdinand in central defence, with John O’Shea and Patrice Evra on the right and left flanks respectively. In front of them, Darron Gibson took up a position on the right with Nani down the left. Paul Scholes and Anderson anchored the midfield, while Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov linked up in attack.
And it was the Bulgarian who had United’s first sight of goal after just three minutes. Anderson's ball into him on the edge of the area just rolled under his foot, but after a couple of ricochets the ball dropped for Berbatov, who struck a first time, right-foot dipping volley that was expertly pushed round the post by Mohammed Farizal Marlias in the Malaysia goal. From Nani’s resulting corner, Berbatov flashed a header just wide.