The striker marks his Manchester United debut with a late winner to save his side's blushes in Kuala Lumpur.
Owen opens United account in Malaysia
Michael Owen marked his Manchester United debut with a late winner to save his side's blushes in Kuala Lumpur. Sir Alex Ferguson's men looked like being held to a surprise draw in the opening match of their Far East tour. Owen, though, had other ideas after coming on as a second-half substitute, and showed the scoring instinct Ferguson knew he had when he made his shock decision to buy the former Liverpool star last month. When Zoran Tosic was upended in the penalty area going for a 50-50 challenge, there was Owen to pounce on the loose ball and stroke the Red Devils to victory. In front of almost 100,000 fans at the Bukit Jalil Stadium, United seemed set for a comfortable win as Wayne Rooney and Nani eased them into a two-goal first-half lead. It was certainly an encouraging hour-long display from Rooney, during which he scored United's first, created the second and came within a couple of inches of chipping home a third. With Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez consigned to the pages of United's history books, Rooney is now the major figure at Old Trafford. True, there will be sterner tests than this for the England man, but on the basis you can only beat the team put in front of you, Rooney did everything asked of him. His goal was a real poacher's effort. Darron Gibson crossed after collecting a superb cross-field pass from Anderson, and though Dimitar Berbatov was repelled by Mohammed Farizal Marlias, Rooney was on hand to expertly steer a shot into the top corner. It was the start of a bad luck story for Berbatov, who twice grazed the Malaysian post with flicked near-post headers and got into plenty of dangerous positions without finding the net. Twelve months ago, the Bulgarian's arrival triggered the eventual exit of Tevez. Now Owen lies in wait to upset the established order. Rooney's place is not under threat and when he threaded a superb pass through the home defence, Nani applied the finish and it appeared United would saunter home. They reckoned without Mohammed Amri Yahyah, one of only two full internationals to start for the Malaysian side, who halved the deficit just before the interval, then levelled eight minutes after the restart. On both occasions, questions could be asked of the goalkeeper. Edwin van der Sar had no chance of actually stopping Yahyah's effort but his starting position seemed to be too far from his goal. If that was a debatable point, there was no doubting Van der Sar's replacement Ben Foster was to blame for the equaliser. As this is almost certain to be Van der Sar's last season of top-flight football, the pressure is on Foster to prove he is worthy of becoming his successor. This was not a good start. Trying to control Gibson's backpass, Foster was horrified as the ball cannoned off his shin. Yahyah was quick to react and Foster was unable to prevent the home striker tapping home. The England keeper was more steady when he needed quick feet to get him out of trouble from a Jonny Evans backpass, but the damage had been done. In between those two moments, Ferguson made a quadruple substitution, Owen among those introduced, with Rooney departing, although not before he had nearly scored again after controlling Paul Scholes' pass and landing a chip just the wrong side of the post. Owen's first effort as a United player was a miscued volley which bounced harmlessly across the home six-yard area. His second, typically, proved to be the winner.
* PA Sport