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Sir Alex Ferguson’s tenure in charge of Manchester United ended with a thrilling 5-5 draw with West Bromwich Albion at the Hawthorns on the final day of the Barclays Premier League season. United held leads of 3-0 and 5-2 but Romelu Lukaku struck three times to ensure that the Scot bowed out of the game in incredible fashion.
Ferguson handed Anders Lindegaard a rare start, while striker Wayne Rooney missed the game as he awaits the birth of his second child. Meanwhile, West Brom head coach Steve Clarke made four changes to the side beaten 4-0 by Norwich City last time out, with Graham Dorrans and Chris Brunt returning.
Ferguson was given a guard of honour from both sides as he emerged from the tunnel for his 1,500th and final game in charge of United.
West Brom applied some pressure to the United area but the visitors quickly broke forward and Javier Hernandez’s whipped cross was nodded home by Shinji Kagawa six yards out. United doubled their advantage inside nine minutes courtesy of an own-goal from Jonas Olsson, who deflected Antonio Valencia’s drilled cross past his own goalkeeper.
Ferguson’s side had made the best possible start and continued to dominate proceedings throughout the opening 20 minutes. West Brom struggled to threaten in the final third of the pitch, as Dorrans dragged a long-range effort wide of the post. Things got even better for United with 30 minutes played as Tom Cleverley played in Alexander Buttner and the Dutch left-back comfortably drilled the ball inside Foster’s far post.
Hernandez should have netted his side's fourth, after Valencia did well to cut back a deep cross from stand-in captain Michael Carrick, but the Mexican struck narrowly wide of the post.
West Brom managed to pull one back five minutes before half-time through James Morrison, who slid the ball home from a low Dorrans cross. The hosts had found a foot in the game just ahead of the break and Clarke brought on Lukaku in an attempt to grab another goal in the second half.
The Chelsea loanee took just five minutes to notch his 15th league goal of the season, as he curled the ball into Lindegaard’s bottom-left corner from just outside the area. United immediately restored their two-goal advantage courtesy of Robin van Persie, who finished under pressure for his 30th goal of the season, his 26th league goal, the leader this season.
Ryan Giggs came on as a substitute to make his 941st United appearance and quickly set up his side’s fifth goal with a cross from the left, which Hernandez tapped in from close range.
Chances came thick and fast during the closing stages and West Brom netted two late goals in the space of two minutes to keep the pressure on United, as Lukaku tucked home a simple finish before Youssouf Mulumbu slotted in from eight yards to set up a grandstand finish. And a memorable game was rounded off with four minutes of normal time to go as Lukaku picked up Marc-Antione Fortune's lay-off and turned past Lindegaard after the Dane had saved his initial effort.
West Bromwich Albion head coach Steve Clarke: “It was an incredible game. I think Sir Alex will remember his final match as Manchester United manager! We started slowly but United began like Champions. They blew us away. The only way to counteract them was to have a go ourselves. That's what we did. We were much more adventurous 2nd half and scoreline reflects that. These players don't know when they're beat. I've got to be pleased with my 1st season. To finish 8th and never be out of the top half is a great achievement by these players.”
|14 Dec 2013||v Cardiff (A)|
|21 Dec 2013||v West Brom (H)|
|26 Dec 2013||v Spurs (A)|
|28 Dec 2013||v West Ham (A)|
|01 Jan 2014||v West Brom (H)|
|11 Jan 2014||v Southampton (A)|