But former Feyenoord midfielder Shinji Ono finished off a superb solo effort near the end to earn Reds a draw, no mean feat considering three of their key men are currently aiding Japan's Asian Cup bid.
"We tired a bit in the second half. Understandable really with the long journey yesterday - 14, 15 hours travel and they found it difficult to sleep on the first night of course," said Sir Alex Ferguson.
"They've applied themselves very well I think, and played some good football at times. We managed to give a few of them a good run out tonight so we're happy with that."