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The Toe Poke
By ESPN Staff

Eagles salvages draw for Utd against Kaiser Chiefs

Chris Eagles marked a rare first team outing by giving Manchester United a share of the spoils in the Vodacom Challenge in South Africa.

The 22-year-old midfielder, who has found himself on the margins at Old Trafford, grabbed the equaliser in the 59th minute.

Eagles powered in a header that took a deflection off Chiefs skipper Jimmy Tau following a cross from Carlos Tevez.

• Fergie pleased with draw

It was little wonder Eagles savoured the moment after making only three first team appearances for United last season.

United were given a good test by the Chiefs with the hosts taking the lead through Jonathan Quartey's penalty in the 37th minute.

Manager Sir Alex Ferguson used the match to give another run-out to fit-again skipper Gary Neville.

He played for the second week in succession after making his comeback from an ankle injury in the friendly against Aberdeen.

Neville managed 45 minutes in that match. Today he stretched that to an hour.

Ferguson named a strong side and included six of the team that started in the Champions League victory against Chelsea.

Rooney partnered Carlos Tevez in attack at the Newlands Stadium in the shadow of Table Mountain.

But the Chiefs made a blistering start and tested United from the off.

This was a friendly in name only with Rooney booked for a harsh challenge on Tinashe Nengomasha in the second half.

Midfielder David Mathebula strode forward and tried his luck from 25 yards but goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak made a comfortable save.

United almost paid for some slack defending in the sixth minute when Siphiwe Tshabalala found space.

He rifled in a powerful shot from the edge of the area but Kuszczak was equal to it.

United responded in the tenth minute after Paul Scholes was tripped on the edge of the area.

Rooney took the free kick but only succeeded in sending his effort over the top.

United should have taken the lead three minutes later, only for Nemanja Vidic to head wide at the far post after Chris Eagles had delivered the corner.

Then Scholes tried to release Rooney in the 20th minute but goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune made a timely interception.

United were playing their way slowly into the game.

They almost took the lead in the 26th minute when Carlos Tevez got on the end of a cross from Gary Neville but headed wide.

The Chiefs took the lead from the penalty spot after 37 minutes for Neville's challenge on Tshabalala.

Quartey sent Kuszczak the wrong way to send the crowd into a frenzy.

United were stunned but hit back and Scholes saw his effort beaten way by Khune.

Then Rooney found himself one on one with Khune but the goalkeeper got the better of him.

United almost drew level in the 51st minute when Eagles delivered a good cross to Tevez but his header was off target.

The Chiefs were enjoying themselves, however, and Jose Torealba scuffed a shot wide after a mix-up in defence.

United though looked a different side though at the beginning of the second half and Tevez again came close to getting the equaliser in the 54th minute.

Their persistence paid off in the 59th minute when Eagles equalised and they dictated the tempo from then on.

United's superior fitness was clear to see but they found the Chiefs difficult to break down.

Ferguson now takes his team on to Durban for the second game against Orlando Pirates on Tuesday.

• Fergie pleased with draw

Ferguson also played down questions over Wayne Rooney's temperament and believes the England striker was unfairly punished when given a yellow card.

'Wayne is a born fighter,' said the Old Trafford boss. 'He gets frustrated in some games.

'He is learning how to control himself and it (the challenge) was next to nothing.

'I do not think he was out of order in this instance.'

England defender Rio Ferdinand was ruled out of the match when he suffered a back spasm just before kick-off.

However he could return for the next match against Orlando Pirates on Tuesday in Durban.

Michael Carrick, who is also carrying a knock, could also be available, while Wes Brown is expected to recover from a gashed ankle he sustained today.

Ferguson added: 'It was a good competitive game and the Kaizer Chiefs played well.

'We found ourselves 1-0 down and that makes it hard because you are still looking for fitness and rhythm to your game.

'I think we deserved a draw. It was a good workout and a competitive game with lots of tasty tackles.

'That brings an edge to your game and I was very pleased to get that kind of competition today.'


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