Dong Fangzhou spared Manchester United's blushes at Newlands with a late winner which handed the Red Devils an undeserved victory over the Kaizer Chiefs.
As they prepare to sell one of the most prolific goalscorers in their history, United looked set to draw a dismal blank in the second game of their South African tour.
Although the club have rejected strong rumours a deal has been done to sell Ruud van Nistelrooy to Real Madrid, it seems only a matter of time before the 30-year-old - one of only eight players to score 150 goals for the club - relocates to the Bernabeu.
And, on tonight's evidence, he will take some replacing.
For, with Louis Saha and Wayne Rooney still on summer leave, a bid for Fernando Torres on hold and neither Ole Gunnar Solskjaer nor Giuseppe Rossi looking anything like as convincing as they did against the Orlando Pirates at the weekend, United were largely impotent in front of goal.
A disappointing performance, made worse by a nasty-looking injury to Kieran Richardson, was summed up 15 minutes from time when Ryan Giggs drilled a low cross to the far post.
It should have presented half-time substitute Dong Fangzhou with a tap-in. Instead, Paul Scholes slid in front of his young team-mate and turned the ball wide of an open goal.
Thankfully for United, Dong did not let his obvious disappointment linger and, after Darren Fletcher skipped to the by-line six minutes from time, steadied himself to fire an eight-yard effort high into the Chiefs net.
Rated as one of the brightest prospects in his native China, Dong has spent his entire two-year stint at United on loan at feeder club Royal Antwerp.
He did turn out for the Red Devils on their Asian tour 12 months ago but, unable to get a UK work permit, Dong remains in exile, where he will return once more when United's current tour draws to a close on Saturday.
Dong saved what was a shoddy display for a United side showing just a single change to the one which did so well against the Orlando Pirates at the weekend.
Teenage full-back Danny Simpson was handed a taste of senior action in place of Phil Bardsley and the Salford-born defender had a relatively quiet time of it in the opening stages too as the Chiefs appeared to target United's left-hand side, where Patrice Evra was stationed.
Evra has endured a difficult introduction to life at Old Trafford following his £5million move from Monaco last January and hardly looked confident as the Chiefs pressed in those early minutes.
However, gradually Evra began to warm to his task, which was just as well really given the amount of possession the hosts enjoyed.
Jimmy Tau was a particular thorn in United's flesh, swinging over a series of decent crosses from the right, even if the Chiefs' only shot of note was a long-range effort from Gert Schalwkwyk which Ben Foster dealt with easily.
Foster continues to impress on his introduction to the Red Devils' ranks and he offered Simpson a Peter Schmeichel-like lecture when the youngster got in his way as he came to collect a cross.
With Scholes and Ryan Giggs off the pace in central midfield, United's attacking impetus was badly affected.
Rossi miscued a diving header, while Solskjaer, fresh from his two-goal salvo in Durban, blazed over twice in quick succession as the visitors struggled to make any impact.
Dong replaced Solskjaer at the interval and the introduction of the young China international seemed to spark United into life.
Scholes saw a piledriver deflected wide and Dong brought a good save out of Rowen Fernandez, who had been virtually unemployed during the opening period.
Fernandez also saved acrobatically from Rossi on the hour mark, although by that time Richardson had departed with what looked like a painful ankle injury sustained as he landed after being on the end of a forceful sliding tackle by Chiefs skipper Cyril Nzama.
Richardson was still in agony as he was helped to the touchline and it did not take long to rule the England international out of the game, ensuring United's victory left a sour taste.