Federico Macheda scored the only goal as Manchester United began their pre-season tour with a 1-0 win over AmaZulu in South Africa.
Italian striker Macheda finished from the edge of the area to put the Premier League side in front after 19 minutes.
But United spent much of the second period on the back foot and goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard had to pull off a fine save from Josef Letka's header.
Macheda scored in his opening two Premier League matches in April 2009 to help United to the title but has only managed two league goals since.
Shinji Kagawa came off the bench for his debut with two minutes left.
United boss Sir Alex Ferguson, who selected experienced players such as Rio Ferdinand, Paul Scholes, Michael Carrick, Javier Hernandez and Dimitar Berbatov along with a host of youngsters, will be pleased with the level of competitiveness so early in his team's pre-season schedule.
Macheda, 20, who spent the second half of last season on loan at QPR, swept in after he was played through by Berbatov.
AmaZulu pressed hard after the interval and, making his first appearance since sustaining an ankle problem in January, Lindegaard impressed in the United goal.
Ferguson was also boosted by Brazilian midfielder Anderson, whose season was hampered by knee and hamstring injuries, coming off the bench after the interval in Durban.
Reserve striker Davide Petrucci hit the bar from 20 yards in the closing stages before Kagawa came on to play alongside Berbatov in attack.
United's final game in South Africa is against Ajax Cape Town on Saturday before they head to China.