Dimitar Berbatov delivered a timely reminder of his quality to Sir Alex Ferguson as Manchester United won 1-0 in Wednesday's friendly against Amazulu at the Moses Mabhida Stadium. ..
Berbatov is strongly linked with a move away from Old Trafford after being restricted to a fringe role last season. AC Milan are said to be keen on luring the Bulgarian for a reported £5 million fee, while Berbatov himself has expressed his displeasure at his lack of first-team opportunities.
However, he started United's friendly in Durban, South Africa, and needed 20 minutes to make his mark. Operating in an attack featuring Federico Macheda and Javier Hernandez, the enigmatic forward produced a glorious through-ball to enable Macheda to open the scoring.
Sir Alex explained his mixed feelings over Berbatov, who played in an advanced midfield role in the match.
"I do not need to herald the abilities of Dimitar Berbatov, he is a fantastic talent,'' he said. "Last season he didn't quite get the amount of football he wants. At his age, it was difficult for him to accept his position in the forward line.
"He had Rooney, Welbeck and Hernandez in front of him, and they are all young men. The boy has a future, but if he wants to leave it is a different matter. I am easy about it if he stays. I would be happy with that. But if someone comes in and Dimitar wants to leave, we will assess it.''
Ferguson fielded the likes of Paul Scholes and Rio Ferdinand in an experienced starting XI, while new signing Shinji Kagawa was given a late cameo as an 89th-minute substitute.
Hernandez missed a glorious early chance for the Red Devils, but Berbatov was the star of the United attack, producing an outrageous volley on the stroke of half-time that force a fine save from the Amazulu keeper.
Berbatov continued his work in the second period, having one shot cleared off the line before prompting another superb save from Taupwa Kapini.
If the forward had a rival for man-of-the-match, it was either of the two keepers, with Anders Lindegaard also making a series of top saves, and crucially for Ferguson the full-time whistle arrived with no injuries to his squad.
The Andre Villas-Boas era at Tottenham Hotspur got off to a winning start as they beat Stevenage 2-0 at the Lamex Stadium. Debut boy Gylfi Sigurdsson opened the scoring on a night when Spurs turned in an impressive performance for their new manager.
Andros Townsend certainly caught the eye down the left flank and it was he who laid the ball back for Sigurdsson, who drifted onto his left foot to rifle into the far corner. Youngster Yago Falque then completed the scoring late on, breaking through the centre, to complete a deserved a win.
Nathan Delfouneso scored the game's only goal as Aston Villa edged the Philadelphia Union 1-0 in their pre-season friendly at PPL Park.
Villa captain Darren Bent captained an experienced line-up, with boss Paul Lambert including new signings Brett Holman and Karim El Ahmadi in his starting line-up along with American goalkeeper Brad Guzan.
Delfouneso made the breakthrough two minutes before half-time when he turned and fired a long-range shot into the bottom-left corner after latching onto a pass from Holman.
The Union's Zac MacMath was by far the busier of the two keepers, keeping out an early Holman effort from point-blank range and denying Delfouneso when he was clean through on goal.
Chelsea new boys Eden Hazard and Marko Marin were both on target as the Blues began their pre-season tour of the United States with a 4-2 victory over the Seattle Sounders.
Romelu Lukaku led the line impressively at CenturyLink Field, opening the scoring in the third minute after being put through by Josh McEachran and grabbing another two minutes before half-time.
Hazard's deflected effort in the 10th minute put the European champions two goals up, before Fredy Montero's brace - the first of which came following a misplaced McEachran pass - got the Sounders back on level terms.
However, Marin marked his debut with a fine strike to put Roberto di Matteo's side ahead again in the 39th minute and Lukaku rounded off an entertaining first half with a fourth goal four minutes later.