Jesse Lingard then had a shot blocked at the other end before levelling the scores a minute later from barely a yard out. Van Persie and Lingard had combined well in the centre circle to release Wilfried Zaha down the right wing. He drove into the penalty area before firing a low ball across the six-yard box. Masakazu Tashiro tried valiantly to clear the danger but succeeded only in presenting Lingard with the easiest of tap-ins.
The Reds then took the lead in bizarre circumstances on the half-hour mark. An Adnan Januzaj free-kick seemed to be posing no danger when it looped towards the back post. But goalkeeper Enomoto’s punch struck the hapless Tashiro, who raced back to goal but couldn't clear the ball before it rolled slowly over the line.
Patrice Evra went close with a header and Januzaj forced a routine save from Enomoto before the break, but the Marinos stood firm to keep the margin down to one goal at the interval.
The home side took just four minutes after the restart to bag an equaliser, Marinos defender Fabio heading powerfully home from Shingo Hyodo’s left-wing corner.
A heavy touch in the penalty area prevented Danny Welbeck (on at the break for van Persie) from immediately restoring the Reds’ advantage, while the Longsight-born striker was frustrated moments later by a brave save by half-time substitute goalkeeper Yuji Rokutan.
By then, the majority of the home crowd were more concerned with Shinji Kagawa’s warm-up on the touchline. When he eventually stepped onto the pitch, with just under half-an-hour remaining, the roar was deafening.
Kagawa’s arrival coincided with the game’s tempo dropping, as the summer heat began to take its toll. Perhaps it was this that created the crack in the Reds’ defence that allowed Fujita to net the winner with just three minutes remaining.
Whatever the reason, David Moyes’ men left the Nissan Stadium disappointed, although the