Manchester United inspired by Wilson on emotional night at Old Trafford
Greats say goodbye while teenager scores twice on debut in win over Hull City
Manchester United’s James Wilson (right) scores his second goal against Hull City at Old Trafford last night. Photograph: Reuters
MANCHESTER UNITED 3 (Wilson 31, 61, Van Persie 86)
HULL CITY 1 (Fryatt 63)
Ryan Giggs may now have made a final appearance as a player for his beloved Manchester United at Old Trafford. Just over 20 minutes remained when the crowd rose to acclaim the 40-year-old’s entrance for his 963rd game in the famous red shirt, after Phil Jones had earlier gone to hospital for an x-ray on a suspected injured shoulder that could threaten his place in England’s World Cup squad.
Giggs came on with the score at 2-1 and his potentially closing acts on home turf included a shot, a burst down the left wing made famously his own for many of his 23 seasons at Old Trafford, and a silkily delivered reverse pass for Robin van Persie’s late goal to seal victory.
The valedictory feel of United’s penultimate match of the season was initiated before kick-off when the captain, Nemanja Vidic, was presented with an album of photographs from his eight supremely successful years at the club by Sir Bobby Charlton. The Serb is departing in the summer for Internazionale after a spell at United during which he won five Premier League titles, the Champions League in 2008, and three League Cups.
The night had started with team news featuring interest at both ends of the age spectrum. Vidic and Giggs were on the bench, alongside the 21-year-old defender, Michael Keane, while Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra were not in the 18, and so were possibly denied an on-field home adieu as each may depart this summer.
It was in the starting XI that Giggs dropped two minor surprises, handing James Wilson, 18, and Tom Lawrence, 20, their debuts. The two are stars of United’s Under-21 side and at Anfield on Friday, Wilson, a striker, hit a post early on against Liverpool in the 1-0 Under-21 Premier League trophy semi-final, while Lawrence proved a strong presence at No 10.
Of Giggs’s thinking, his assistant Nicky Butt said: “We’ve brought in four lads who have been with the club from a very early age [24-year-old Ben Amos was also on the bench], and have come right through the ranks, that is very important for this club. The coaching staff had a chat about it and we thought it was important to bring the young lads in at this point. They will bring us speed, energy and they will enjoy it and give their all, that has been a big part in picking the squad.”
The first half offered evidence of this wisdom. First, in the 16th minute, Lawrence tip-toed across the penalty area-D before letting fly with an effort that was deflected for a corner by Maynor Figueroa.
Then came a thrilling moment for Wilson as he put United ahead in the 31st minute. A cross by Adnan Januzaj to the far post was headed down by Marouane Fellaini, who was operating in the No10 berth, and Wilson nipped in to fire the ball home with a left-foot shot.
Earlier, Jones’s collision with Figueroa meant Vidic had entered the fray earlier than expected, after 22 minutes.
Lawrence began the second half by bursting straight towards Eldin Jakupovic’s goal to draw a foul from David Meyler and a free-kick. The youngster was allowed to take aim from this himself though after Januzaj’s faint tip of the ball, the shot was smothered. Next up, Januzaj had a 25-yard attempt turned wide by Jakupovic.
Now, Hull’s supporters offered a few verses of “Just like a library” in reference to the soporific atmosphere. It reflected the fact that the contest was being played like an exhibition game with any sporadic moments of excitement usually prompted by Januzaj, as when he skated past two defenders in the area to bring the Stretford End to its feet.
And it was the newly declared Belgium international who created Wilson’s second. Januzaj ghosted along the right before supplying a perfect pass for Fellaini. His shot was saved by Jakupovic, but Wilson coolly slotted home. Within two minutes Hull pulled a goal back with a fine 30-yard Matty Fryatt finish that gave David De Gea little chance.
But for Giggs the three points were all. And, he had the final say with that ball for Van Persie’s strike, and a curling free-kick Jakupovic did well to save.
Guardian News & Media 2014
MANCHESTER UNITED: De Gea, Valencia, Smalling, Jones (Vidic 22), Buttner, Carrick, Kagawa, Januzaj, Fellaini, Lawrence (Giggs 70), Wilson (van Persie 64). Subs Not Used: Mata, Young, Keane, Amos. Booked: Fellaini. Goals: Wilson 31,61,van Persie 86.
HULL CITY: Jakupovic, Bruce, Davies, Figueroa, Elmohamady (Livermore 82), Meyler, Boyd, Quinn, Rosenior (Sagbo 46), Koren, Long (Fryatt 46). Subs Not Used: Huddlestone, Jelavic, Harper, Faye. Booked: Meyler. Goals: Fryatt 63.
Referee: Craig Pawson (South Yorkshire)