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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Aug, 4, 2007

Doncaster 0-2 Man Utd: Anderson debut

Anderson tiptoed through his first 45 minutes as a Manchester United player as the Red Devils edged out Doncaster in a keenly-contested friendly.

Darron Gibson's clinical second-half strike put United in front, with Sean Evans lashing home from similar range in the final minute, although Sir Alex Ferguson would have been as delighted Anderson got some match practice under his belt as he would with the win.

After spending the summer as part of his country's triumphant Copa America squad, the £17million summer signing from FC Porto only began training with the Red Devils on Monday but Ferguson felt sufficiently confident in the youngster's match fitness to hand him a starting berth at the Keepmoat Stadium.

And, while Anderson will face many stiffer challenges than that posed by United's League One opponents this evening, he did enough in brief spells to show why Ferguson invested so much in the 19-year-old.

His passing was particularly effective and, operating behind lone striker Fraizer Campbell, he found space intelligently.

He could not manage a goal though. The nearest he came was a speculative curling effort from 20 yards that sailed over Neil Sullivan's goal.

The former Scotland keeper has largely disappeared from the radar after an unhappy spell at Leeds but there is clearly nothing wrong with his reflexes judging by two excellent saves which denied Campbell a first-half opener.

There would have been nothing Sullivan could have done to keep out Evans' rasping effort though had it been an inch or two lower. Instead, the Shropshire-born teenager rattled the crossbar.

Ferguson opted to take him off at half-time, possibly in readiness for another appearance at Peterborough tomorrow, where Owen Hargreaves could also be involved.

Darren Fletcher and Mikael Silvestre, both almost certain to be involved in Sunday's Community Shield showdown with Chelsea at Wembley, were withdrawn on the hour.

In between, United lost Jonny Evans, who was worryingly rubbing his groin as he headed down the tunnel, sparking fears of an extended absence.

Given Ferguson has such high hopes of the Belfast-born central defender, an injury would be a blow, not just for club but also country given Northern Ireland face a crucial Euro 2008 qualifier against Liechtenstein on August 22.

Evans proved again in the opening period what a talent he is, although Doncaster still managed to carve out a couple of chances.

James Hayter should have done better when Tomasz Kuszczak inexplicably failed to make any contact with Paul Heffernan's corner.

Kuszczak made amends with a finger-tip save to deny Gordon Greer after the big defender had got his head to Martin Woods' free-kick.

The Pole's efforts proved crucial as, even without their senior stars, United seized the initiative 19 minutes from time.

Like Evans, Gibson has been tipped for big things by Ferguson.

His international ambitions may be delayed by the decision to pledge his future to the Republic of Ireland rather than North Ireland, but the Derry-born youngster caught the eye with a flashing 20-yard drive which flew into the top corner.

Bruce Dyer nearly levelled for the hosts late on but it was left to Evans to seal United's win from almost the same spot Gibson had hit the target earlier.

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