Friday 31 October 2014

Ferdinand's late winner a fitting end to epic day

Manchester United 2 Swansea 1

Sam Wallace

Published 13/05/2013 | 05:00

Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson lifts the Premier League trophy as his players celebrate in his final game at Old Trafford
Manchester United's Rio Ferdinand celebrates his game-winning goal against Swansea City

There have been goals scored later than this at Old Trafford in the last 26 years, there have been much more significant wins than this, but Rio Ferdinand's 87th-minute strike is unique in being the last late winner of Alex Ferguson's reign.

There were times when the sheer magnitude of the occasion seemed to inhibit this United team, but, eventually, they found an extra gear to win the game just as they have done so many times over the years. For much of it, Swansea were the better side, but that alone is not enough to win games at Old Trafford.

To do that, you have to take your chances and there was a key moment, on 53 minutes, when Swansea almost did. Michu, who had scored an excellent equaliser earlier, played in Wayne Routledge, who held off Ferdinand and put his shot just wide of David de Gea's post.

There was also a chance for Pablo Hernandez that De Gea saved well.

With three minutes remaining, the ball bounced to Ferdinand (pictured) at the back post and his half-volley was struck so hard, the base of the goal was lifted off the ground.

In the first half, Javier Hernandez had seized on Ashley Williams' mistake to score the first.

For Swansea, ninth place in the table is assured and they could finish as high as eighth on Sunday if they beat Fulham and West Brom lose to United.

That is some achievement for Michael Laudrup's first season, put alongside the League Cup victory, although he warned later that the clubs below Swansea would be spending heavily to catch up in the summer.

It was also the last Old Trafford outing for Paul Scholes, this time for good, who was given a place in the starting line-up by Ferguson. A goal would have been the perfect send-off, but there had only been one previously all season.

In the end, the attention was all elsewhere, which is exactly as the former England midfielder would have liked it. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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