Friday 20 April 2018

Two-goal hero Wilson announces himself in style as United old guard bid farewell

Manchester United 3 Hull City 1

Manchester United's James Wilson celebrates after scoring his team's first goal during the Barclays Premier League match at Old Trafford. PA
Manchester United's James Wilson celebrates after scoring his team's first goal during the Barclays Premier League match at Old Trafford. PA
Manchester United's English striker James Wilson heads the ball
Nemanja Vidic of Manchester United salutes the fans after his final home game for the club
Manchester United's Interim Welsh player-manager Ryan Giggs smiles after taking a free kick
Luis Antonio Valencia of Manchester United competes with Stephen Quinn of Hull City

Henry Winter

This was a strange evening, a mixture of testimonial, leaving-do and welcome do. Old Trafford paid an emotional farewell to Nemanja Vidic, who is off to Inter Milan, and probably Ryan Giggs, who was making his 963rd appearance.

It saluted the teenaged talent of James Wilson, who scored twice and has now struck for the U-18s, U-19s, U-21s and seniors this season.

Matty Fryatt pulled one back for Hull, Robin van Persie added United's third but victory came at a cost for United and possibly England.

Phil Jones injured his shoulder, casting doubt over his involvement in the World Cup. It seemed to sum up United's season, one of constant damage. There were hopes raised for the future by another sparkling performance from Adnan Januzaj, who was all elegance, skill and speed.

As Giggs said after the final whistle of Wilson: "You've seen a glimpse of the future and this club always gives youth a chance".

For all the excitement engendered by the scoring debut of Wilson, the first half had been overshadowed by the injury to Jones, which ended his involvement after 18 minutes.

Chasing a corner, he peeled away from his marker and sprinted towards the ball, leaping up, eyes only on the ball, ignoring Hull's defenders. He crashed into Maynor Figueroa and fell to the floor, landing awkwardly on his left shoulder.

As Jones was ferried away to hospital for a scan on his shoulder, Nemanja Vidic was running on for his farewell appearance at Old Trafford. He was given a stirring welcome.

Vidic stepped into a game that United were in control of without having broken through Hull's back-line. Wilson's movement and neat touch had been in evidence, delighting a crowd who have been starved of good news this season. The promise of youth is always cherished at Old Trafford.

Giggs, the erstwhile prodigy, had won two Premier Leagues before the debut-making Wilson had even been born. Giggs was clearly determined to give youth a chance on his way out of the dug-out. Wilson led the line, with another youngster, Tom Lawrence, on the left and Januzaj on the right.

Januzaj should have been awarded a penalty early on when running onto Antonio Valencia's pass, cutting into the area and falling when ensnared by the legs of Figueroa. Craig Pawson had a brief look but signalled for play to continue.

Januzaj helped create Wilson's first goal. He whipped in a corner from the right, Marouane Fellaini headed back and Wilson finished crisply. He became the fourth youngest United player to score a Premier League goal.

Having scored at all levels for United this season, from U-18s through to seniors now, Wilson scored in both halves of his debut. Just after the hour-mark, Januzaj went on another fine run down the right, crossing in to Fellaini, whose shot was straight at Eldin Jakupovic. The Hull 'keeper pushed the ball out but there was Wilson, pouncing again.

Hull reminded United of their presence almost immediately, Fryatt scoring with a 25-yard strike that gave David de Gea no chance. Wilson was then replaced by Van Persie, quite an accolade in itself. Giggs then sent himself on for Lawrence, who had shown some good touches, including one strong run through the middle until fouled by David Meyler.

Self-indulgent? Hardly. Giggs was superb, cutting in from the right one moment, tricking Alex Bruce the next as the Hull centre-half's father Steve, looked on.

United were still occasionally shaky defensively, particularly when Hull attacked down the right. Yannick Sagbo was causing United some problems. Meyler almost equalised, meeting George Boyd's lay-off with a powerful shot that De Gea parried away. The Spanish 'keeper has been one of the few bright points in a dark season for United.

As has Januzaj, who continued to torment Hull's full-backs. After another Januzaj run, this time through the middle, Van Persie took up the running and drew a save from Jakupovic before finishing off the rebound. United fans craved a Giggs goal, chanting "'keeper, 'keeper, let it in" when the interim-manager lined up a free-kick.

Jakupovic saved well and was promptly booed. At the final whistle, Giggs thanked the fans for their steadfastness during a "tough season" and added that "the good times will come back soon". (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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