Barclays Premier League
Manchester United vs. Hull City
Venue: Old Trafford
Date: Tuesday, 6 May 2014
Kick-off: 19:45 BST
Manchester United’s final home game of the season ended in victory as Hull City were the victors after a 3-1 win for the hosts.
An emotional occasion at Old Trafford saw captain Nemanja Vidic make his final appearance at the Theatre of Dreams, as well as a potential swansong appearance for current interim manager Ryan Giggs, with both loyal servants coming on as substitutes.
Giggs gave debuts to James Wilson and Tom Lawrence, and it was the former’s brace that set United on the way before substitute Matty Fryatt halved the deficit for the visitors, before another substitute Robin van Persie sealed the game with five minutes to go.
Steve Bruce returned to the stage where he enjoyed such a successful career, and he made five changes to the side that lost to Aston Villa at the weekend, with one eye on next week’s FA Cup final in mind.
This game held similarities to the one against Norwich. A slow first half was changed in the second, as United played with pace, power and purpose, to overturn a Hull side who were already safe from the drop zone.
Adnan Januzaj’s cross was headed back across goal by Marouane Fellaini, but Wilson missed the ball as a shaky Hull defence received an early scare, which didn’t end there.
Antonio Valencia’s long ball over the top found Januzaj, who had a half-hearted penalty appeal dismissed, before his corner met the head of Phil Jones, only for the ball to get cleared.
Chris Smalling found Lawrence, who set up Shinji Kagawa, only for the Japanese’s wayward shot to fall way off target.
Wilson’s header to Lawrence allowed the 20-year-old to find Kagawa once more, this time producing a corner after his shot was deflected wide.
Lawrence himself had a shot deflected over the bar before the resulting corner ended with Jones having to make way for Vidic, after a clash with Maynor Figueroa inside the penalty area.
Figueroa was then victim of a handball appeal inside the box which referee Craig Pawson waved away after Januzaj had gone to ground before the ball appeared to strike the Honduran on the hand.
Januzaj, causing serious problems down the right-hand side, won himself a free-kick, in which he dually obliged to whip in himself. The ball found Fellaini and his header across goal was fired in first time by Wilson, for a dream debut inside Old Trafford.
Hull’s only attack of the half came from Alexander Buttner’s mistake after he was dispossessed, but Elmohamady’s adventurous run saw his pull back cut out, as United led 1-0 at the break.
Lawrence won himself a free-kick inside the first minute after the restart, but his strike from Januzaj’s lay-off from the resulting kick struck the wall, before Wilson eventually turned the ball wide after neat link up play between Lawrence, Valencia and Januzaj.
Carrick fed the ball into Januzaj, and his turn and shot ended up being turned behind by Eldin Jakupovic, as everything positive United did seemed to go through the 19-year-old starlet.
And it was his cross which nearly found the head of Fellaini before the two of them were involved in United’s second just a minute later.
A fantastic 50 yard run from Januzaj deserved a reward, and his pull back found his fellow countryman, but Fellaini’s effort was saved, only for the alert Wilson to tap home the rebound, as his dream debut got even better, this time in front of the Stretford End.
Those celebrations were short lived, however, as just a minute later, Fryatt fired a 25 yard strike past David De Gea and into the bottom right-hand corner, to make a contest out of nothing.
Hull were on the ascendency, but two poor crosses, first from the left by George Boyd, and then Figueroa, sailed over the bar without troubling.
Yet another fantastic run from Januzaj saw him tee up Fellaini once more, but his first goal for United still alludes him, as he fired over off-balance.
A hero’s welcome for Giggs was a fitting reception for a legend of this great club, and it didn’t take long for him to be involved.
A one-two with Kagawa ended with his deflected shot being held, before he rolled back the years by beating his man on the left wing, only to see his cross cleared.
A superbly-struck volley from David Meyler was parried away by De Gea, before van Persie shot wide at the other end after a one-two with Januzaj.
The two were involved again as Januzaj’s run led to his pass to van Persie, before the Dutchman cut in onto his right foot, but his shot was comfortably held by Jakupovic.
That didn’t stop the 30-year-old talisman getting his name on the score sheet anyway.
Van Persie’s initial effort was blocked after he received the ball from Giggs, but a supreme volley on the rebound with his supposedly weaker right foot found the back of the net, as the ball nestled into the bottom right-hand corner.
Smalling nearly turned Figueroa’s cross into his own net but fortunately De Gea was on hand to catch the ball, before a stoppage time free-kick from Giggs had United fans’ hearts-in-mouths, but Jakupovic tipped the ball over, much to the dismay of the Old Trafford faithful.
Not quite the fairy-tale end for Giggs, in what looks like his final appearance for the club, certainly on home soil, but nonetheless an important three points to keep alive any slim hopes of sneaking into sixth spot.
United need to win away at Southampton on Sunday and hope that Tottenham lose at home to Aston Villa for that to happen, as United boast a better goal difference than the north London outfit.
So farewell to Vidic, and possibly Giggs, but a victory in the final home game of the season sent United fans home happy.
As one career looks to have ended, another is just about to begin, with two goals from a man called Wilson on his debut. Quite fitting really – let’s not forget that Giggs was born Ryan Wilson…
Man of the Match: Adnan Januzaj – for someone who only turned 19 in February, he already looks at home in the United first team. Involved in the first two goals, he looked a threat every time he received the ball and he was always looking for that killer pass or ball or cross. He ran all night, attempting to get past his man almost every time, was positive in his ball, pulled off a few tricks at the right moments and linked up well with all of his teammates, including Valencia, who was playing behind Januzaj, with Valencia a close second for man of the match. However, Januzaj gets my vote. What an exciting prospect we have on our hands. The future is certainly bright for this lad.
Manchester United team and player ratings: De Gea 7; Valencia 7; Smalling 7; Jones 6 (Vidic ’22 – 6), Buttner 6; Carrick 6; Januzaj 8, Kagawa 6, Lawrence 6 (Giggs ’70 – 7); Fellaini 5; Wilson 7 (van Persie ’64 – 7).
Unusued subs: Amos, M Keane, Mata, Young.
Interim Manager: Ryan Giggs
Hull team: Jakupovic; Elmohamady (Livermore 82), Davies, Bruce, Figueroa, Rosenior (Sagbo 46); Meyler, Quinn; Koren, Boyd, Long (Fryatt 46).
Unused subs: Harper, Faye, Huddlestone, Jelavic.