Rio Ferdinand’s late winner ensured a winning farewell to Old Trafford for Sir Alex Ferguson as Manchester United beat Swansea City 2-1.
A celebratory atmosphere was already ensured with United due to pick up the trophy after the final whistle, but the announcement of Ferguson’s retirement during the week added an extra element of emotion to the occasion.
To their credit, Swansea weren’t prepared to merely play sacrificial lambs in front of the Old Trafford faithful and made it a real match. When Michu cancelled out Javier Hernandez’s opener just after the break a draw looked on the cards, but Ferdinand stepped up in the 87th minute to ensure United’s manager bowed out of Old Trafford with a win.
The celebration of their manager had almost got off to the perfect start in the first five minutes. From Robin van Persie’s pass, Hernandez fired a left-footed shot at goal but the ball struck the crossbar and bounced to safety.
With Van Persie influential playing in a more withdrawn role off of Hernandez, United continued to probe in search of the opening goal.
The Dutchman’s cross-field pass allowed Patrice Evra to escape the attentions of Nathan Dyer at the far post, but the defender could only shoot straight at Gerhard Tremmel. Van Persie also set up another chance for Hernandez with a clever pass into the box but the Mexican volleyed disappointingly over the bar.
Paul Scholes was also looking to mark his final appearance at Old Trafford in style and on a couple of occasions he got forward in the mould of his former days as a goal-getting midfielder. There wasn’t to be a final moment of glory for the 38-year-old, though, with the closest he came being a mishit shot following a neat interchange involving Hernandez on the edge of the box.
United would instead be forced to wait until the 39th minute to break the deadlock. When the goal came it owed much to some poor defending from the opposition and Ashley Williams, in particular, as the Swansea captain failed to clear or control Van Persie’s free-kick and Hernandez was typically alert to pounce on the opportunity and fire low into the far corner of the net.
From there many may have expected United to go on an see out a comfortable win, but Swansea admirably came out with increased vigor at the start of the second half and within four minutes of the start of the second half they drew level.
Michu did well to get ahead of Phil Jones at the near post from Dyer’s cross and applied a stylish finish on the volley to net his 18th Premier League goal of the season.
Swansea maintained their momentum too and came close to going in front but Pablo Hernandez’s near-post effort was turned away by his fellow Spaniard David de Gea.
Ferguson soon looked to introduce fresh legs to the United side with Anderson and Antonio Valencia coming off the bench and Scholes bidding farewell to the Old Trafford crowd. His Brazilian replacement came close to making an immediate attention, but Anderson fired inches wide on the volley from the edge of the box.
It was looking like United and Ferguson would have to settle for a draw, but with three minutes remaining a goal arrived to fittingly mark the momentous occasion.
Swansea failed to deal with a corner as Nemanja Vidic tussled for the ball and it traveled though to the back post where his center-back partner Ferdinand was on hand to smash a shot into the net for his first United goal in five seasons.
The jubilation wad there for all to see on Ferdinand’s face and those of his teammates as Manchester United brought the curtain down on Sir Alex Ferguson’s reign at Old Trafford in style.