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In Tevez, United trust

It was a pity Tevez’s last contribution was a free-kick conceded near the centre circle, reports Dhiman Sarkar.

sports Updated: Jul 29, 2008 18:58 IST
Dhiman Sarkar

Combine bulldog spirit and brilliance and, if you are talking football, Carlos Tevez is what you get. On Tuesday night as Manchester United worked past Orlando Pirates 1-0 at the Absa Stadium here, the Argentine muscle mass showed he had lost none of the work ethic during close season. Bad news for Premiership contenders.

If that’s a lesson well learnt by the young Manchester United team manager Alex Ferguson put out, this South African trip would be worth it for the champions of Europe and England.

It was a pity Tevez’s last contribution was a free-kick conceded near the centre circle. But if Ferguson was happy with the first 25 minutes because his team showed “quick passing and interchanging” it was largely due to Tevez.

He was in the thick of action in everything Manchester United did in front after kick-off. An early link-up with Fraizer Campbell followed an on-the-run right-footer after Chris Eagles played square and then he got Martin Lee forward only for the young striker to delay things. Tevez drove wide in the 31st minute and soon after, dropped into the midfield as Martin Lee joined Campbell as striking partner.

Rio Ferdinand got a game as did Michael Carrick and Mikael Silvestre but with Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Gary Neville, Nemanja Vidic, John O’ Shea and Wayne Rooney starting on the bench, the visitors, after taking a 22nd minute lead through Lee Martin, seemed to have lost their way. That is till Rooney and Scholes’s late arrival and their excellent combination which almost led to an insurance goal.

“Youngsters sometimes lose concentration which is an important ingredient to being a first-team player. You can train for all day but if you can’t concentrate, it doesn’t happen. Just look at the composure Rooney and Scholes brought to the game. Just to see the pass that Rooney gave Scholes would have been money well spent for me,” Ferguson said.

With Pirates playing Kaiser Chiefs on Thursday in Port Elizabeth — the Soweto derby is serious business in South Africa with the winners taking on Manchester United for the Vodacom Challenge in Pretoria on Saturday providing garnishing for this pre-season joust — Dutch coach Ruud Kroll too played a second-string side. By the time the Pirates, in their new red shirts, got over the early jitters, they were trailing.

But had young Ben Foster, living in the shadow of Edwin van der Saar and having battled injury, not made the most of a rare start in goal, the Pirates wouldn’t have been denied the equaliser their improved second-half showing merited.

Foster kept out Lebogang Mothibantwa’s left-foot cannonball, bending back to tip it over after he had blocked Lucas Thwala’s attempt.

And when Joseph Makhanya’s banged in from close, Foster was at the near post to thwart danger. If he stays patient, he has a long England career and one at the club ahead of him, Ferguson said of his goalminder.