Shinji Kagawa’s homecoming was spoiled by a late Yoshihito Fujita strike, as Yokohama F·Marinos beat Manchester United 3-2 in the Kagome Re:Generation Challenge on Tuesday night.
Much to the delight of the home fans, Kagawa played the final half-an-hour after only reporting back for pre-season duty the previous day. But Fujita’s low finish from 15 yards in the 87th minute denied him a perfect night in front of an adoring Yokohama crowd.
Indeed, despite the result, five goals and a healthy sprinkling of further chances, the night was still all about Kagawa. Shinji’s every touch during his cameo was cheered as if it was a goal. Had his curling left-footed shot found the net just five minutes after his arrival instead of nestling tamely in Rokutan’s hands, the fans inside the Nissan Stadium may well have thought they had died and gone to heaven. After all, in this part of the world, Shinji Kagawa is a god.
In the end, Kagawa couldn’t help the Reds to victory, although he and his team-mates were always going to find the task tough after conceding with just 27 seconds on the clock.
Patrice Evra’s lax pass gifted the ball to Brazilian forward Marquinhos, who fired a stinging shot goalwards from 22 yards. David De Gea did brilliantly to parry the effort high into the air but when the ball fell to Marquinhos again, courtesy of a touch off Fabio, he buried his volley in the bottom corner.
It handed the home side a surprise early advantage and United didn't muster a meaningful effort on goal until the 10th minute when Evra’s left-wing cross was diverted by a Yokohama centre-back and van Persie’s sweeping effort on the half-volley fizzed just over the bar.
Three minutes later, former Celtic midfielder Shinsuke Nakamura came within a whisker of scoring direct from a corner when his right-wing inswinger was headed off the line by Adnan Januzaj. With their tails up, the Marinos continued to push forward and Marquinhos was denied a second goal only by De Gea’s outstretched left foot.