Shinji Ono denied Manchester United victory in the first game of their Asian tour with a late equaliser to secure a 2-2 draw for Urawa Red Diamonds in Saitama on Tuesday.
|British club team Manchester United midfielder Cristiano Ronaldo dribbles the ball past Urawa Red midfielder Hideki Uchidate|
Second half strikes by Darren Fletcher and Cristiano Ronaldo had cancelled out Hideki Uchidate's opener to put United ahead, but Japan midfielder Ono's 77th minute goal proved enough to seal a share of the spoils.
United, who had arrived in Tokyo less than 36 hours earlier, appeared off the pace in the early stages as J-League champions Urawa attempted to carve out an opener.
But with Portuguese winger Ronaldo in the starting line-up, United carried threat going forward and the Premiership's Footballer of the Year almost created an opening on nine minutes before a hard but fair challenge on the edge of the penalty area by Urawa defender Nene.
The home side went closest to scoring early on, though, when Takahito Some forced Edwin Van der Sar into an important save low down to his right at the near post.
Uchidate then teed up Brazilian striker Ponte to shoot over the crossbar from 20 yards before United finally worried the home side with a long range effort from England midfielder Michael Carrick that flew narrowly over the bar.
That near miss appeared to give a clearly tired United the lift they needed and it required a crucial save by Ryota Tsuzuki on 24 minutes to keep out Ronaldo's fiercely struck shot from the edge of the penalty area.
United were then caught out on the break, though, when Uchidate left Van der Sar red-faced with his freak long-range opener less than sixty seconds later.
The veteran midfielder was left unchallenged by the United defenders thirty yards from goal, but his right-foot strike should not have worried Dutch international Van der Sar.
But the goalkeeper misread the flight of the ball and, without deflection, Uchidate's shot flew past Van der Sar, who for some reason dived in the opposite direction.
Having made costly mistakes against Portsmouth and AS Roma late last season, this was another example of the 36-year-old's increasing frailties.
Wayne Rooney almost hauled United back level before half-time, though.
Firstly, he floated a terrific cross to Paul Scholes that saw the midfielder's header well saved by Tsuzuki.
And the England youngster than beat four defenders and ran from inside his own half before having his right-foot effort blocked by the Urawa goalkeeper.
With the prospect of a dispiriting opening defeat looming, United stepped up a gear early in the second half and Scotland international Fletcher pulled the English team level two minutes after the interval.
Carrick's shot had been saved before Rooney picked up the rebound and laid off to Carrick, who pulled the ball back for Fletcher to score from six yards.
When Ronaldo put United ahead with right-foot strike on 52 minutes, Urawa looked out of the game, but Ono secured a deserved draw when he capped a late fightback with a well-taken 77th minute goal.