Portuguese winger Bebe fired home in injury-time to snatch a 1-1 draw and spare Manchester United's blushes in the Reds' second pre-season game of the summer.
In a contest that only sparked into life in the final five minutes, Ajax Cape Town pushed Sir Alex's men all the way and almost produced a sensational shock.
Substitute Alcardo Van Graan must have thought he'd won the game when he cheekily flicked in a corner on 85 minutes. But that only prompted a flurry of United attacks and, after chances for both Ryan Tunnicliffe and debutant Nick Powell went begging, Bebe arrived at the back post to smash home Marnick Vermijl's cross and secure a share of the spoils.
The dramatic finish at least went some way to erasing the memory of the previous 85 minutes. Torrential rain earlier in the day no doubt affected the playing surface, but the bigger problem for both teams appeared to be a lack of incision in the final third. The Reds' defence, largely unfamiliar with each other, also understandably lacked cohesion.
Summer signing Shinji Kagawa played 75 minutes and was solid if not spectacular in his first start. He played in an advanced midfield role, tucked behind Javier Hernandez, and showed a number of neat touches. He did, however, spurn a golden chance to open the scoring on the hour-mark when he headed wide after Hernandez found him unmarked just six yards from goal.
The Japanese international was nonetheless a hit with the people of Cape Town, who produced a carnival atmosphere at Green Point Stadium that was, at times, the equal of many top European grounds. Vuvuzelas were present, of course, but so were many of the songs sung regularly inside Old Trafford. And although the majority of supporters were decked out