Teenage debutant James Wilson scored twice as Manchester United beat Hull City, 3-1, on Tuesday in a game where interim manager Ryan Giggs made perhaps his final appearance as a player at Old Trafford.
Wilson, handed his first senior United appearance by Giggs alongside 20-year-old Tom Lawrence, fired home from close range either side of half-time to enjoy a dream debut, as substitute Robin van Persie’s late finish clinched the points for the home side.
Matty Fryatt’s long-range effort had briefly given Hull—who also rotated ahead of next weekend’s FA Cup final—hope of snatching a result, but United’s win means they can still feasibly clinch Europa League qualification on the final day of the season.
United are three points behind Tottenham going into the last game of the campaign, albeit with a far superior goal difference.
Giggs was not the only one perhaps making his last appearance at United’s home ground, with Nemanja Vidic getting a rousing reception as the defender departing for Inter Milan in the summer came on as a substitute.
The moment was somewhat bittersweet, however, as Phil Jones was the player forced off with a shoulder injury that may yet keep him out of the World Cup for England.
Vidic: "Thank you all from the bottom of my heart. Thank you very much."— Tom Williams (@tomwfootball) May 6, 2014
Giggs addressing Old Trafford crowd: "You've seen a little glimpse of the future...keep supporting us & the good times will come back soon"— Dan Roan (@danroan) May 6, 2014
There was also some concern for Hull boss Steve Bruce: David Meyler appeared to stomp on Adnan Januzaj late in the game, an offence that may yet receive retrospective punishment.
The incident was a curious end to a match that had felt like an exhibition for most of the evening. With both sides having little incentive to motivate them (United may not even want the distraction of the Europa League next term), they named changed lineups, with Wilson and Lawrence up front for the home side and Januzaj scheming in behind.
Hull, meanwhile, played reserve goalkeeper Eldin Jakupovic, as a host of fringe names had their chance to impress with the Wembley date against Arsenal less than two weeks away.
Fans were excited to see how the two young strikers would fare, and one in particular would have a night to remember. Wilson's first goal for the club was straightforward but emphatic—latching onto Marouane Fellaini’s far-post knockdown to break the deadlock after 31 minutes.
It would take another half-hour for United to double their advantage, but again it would be Wilson and Fellaini who provided the cutting edge, the teenager tapping home after the Belgian’s initial effort had been saved.
At that point, with an hour gone, Hull had not even mustered a shot on goal—but that changed emphatically as Fryatt jinked free of his marker and beat David De Gea with a dipping 30-yard strike.
That seemed to spark Giggs into action, bringing himself on for a cameo to close out the game. He made an impact, lifting the crowd and the players around him, but it was another of his substitutes who secured the points—as Van Persie found the bottom corner with a powerful, right-foot finish five minutes from time.
Ryan Giggs is now Manchester United’s first player-manager to take the field since 1927.— Richard Jolly (@RichJolly) May 6, 2014
From that moment, the exhibition feel took over, the home players enjoying themselves as they sought a fitting finish for Vidic and, as manager and possibly as a player, too, Giggs.
The latter, relishing this appearance in an unfamiliar role, took a final free-kick from 30 yards, with only a spectacular save from Jakupovic denying the Welshman a brilliant goal.
Attacker and goalkeeper both smiled at what had happened. It was that sort of night.
|David De Gea||6|
|Robin van Persie||7|
Manchester United close a disappointing campaign with an away trip to Southampton—the side that will finish directly beneath them in the final table—on Sunday. Hull host Everton the same day, before attention turns to the FA Cup final against Arsenal on May 17.