Debutant James Wilson gave Manchester United fans a glimpse of the future with a brace in a 3-1 Barclays Premier League win over Hull City.
The 18-year-old striker was trusted by interim manager Ryan Giggs to lead the line in United's final home match of the season on Tuesday and he rewarded that faith by finding the net in either half, much to the delight of the Old Trafford faithful.
Wilson's first came in the 31st minute after Marouane Fellaini's assist and the teenager added a second just after the hour from close range. Substitute Matty Fryatt pulled a goal back for Hull two minutes after Wilson's second of the evening before Robin van Persie restored United's two-goal cushion with four minutes remaining with his first goal since March, a drilled effort from the edge of the penalty area.
Victory means United, who lost defender Phil Jones to a shoulder injury midway through the first half, can overhaul Tottenham Hotspur and steal sixth spot and a place in the UEFA Europa League on the final weekend of the season, while defeat for Hull extends Steve Bruce's winless run against his old club as a manager to 20 matches.
Giggs made eight alterations to the side beaten by Sunderland on Saturday as youngsters Wilson and Tom Lawrence were handed their first-team bows. Hull counterpart and Giggs' former United team-mate Bruce also made changes, no doubt with the upcoming FA Cup Final in mind, and the visitors struggled to make any impact in the opening exchanges.
Bruce's men almost conceded a penalty when Adnan Januzaj was tackled by Maynor Figueroa but the Honduran defender’s challenge was well timed. Figueroa was in the thick of the action again when Lawrence's 16th-minute shot struck him on its way over the crossbar.
The deadlock was broken after 30 minutes by Wilson following a Januzaj free-kick. The young striker latched on to a knockdown from Fellaini, the Belgian’s first assist of the season, and volleyed the ball in.
In the second period as United went close to doubling their lead. The lively Januzaj found space 25 yards from goal before firing a low shot towards goal that Eldin Jakupovic had no problems pushing away for a corner.
United did get a second goal after 61 minutes and again it was Wilson who was on hand to score. After more excellent work from Januzaj, Fellaini’s shot was saved and Wilson was on hand to pounce on the loose ball to double his tally.
Substitute Fryatt found the bottom corner two minutes later with a superb curling effort from 25 yards to give Hull hope.
Wilson was then replaced by Van Persie and Giggs also came off the bench to make what could be his final appearance as a player at Old Trafford. The Welsh winger made an immediate impact and produced some dazzling wing play that turned back time.
David Meyler had a late chance to snatch a point for the visitors, but David De Gea was equal to the task. Van Persie wrapped up the points, receiving a pass from Giggs before firing past Jakupovic at the second attempt to wrap up a comfortable victory.
Manchester United interim manager Ryan Giggs: "It's always been the way at United, to give young players a chance. He [Wilson] is a good player, he is exciting. He has trained with us the last couple of days and not looked out of place, and so has Tom [Lawrence]. It's great to have kids who have been at the club for so long. I think they have all been at the club since they were eight."
"He [Vidic] has been a brilliant player for us and a brilliant defender. He has shared so much success with the lads in the dressing room, it is a big moment for him. He goes with our good wishes and hopefully he does well.
“I've not been told anything [about the future]. I've been left to get on with my job, which I'm quite happy with and I'll get on with that until Sunday."
Hull City manager Steve Bruce: “It was a good workout for us. A lot of people needed a game and it has given me something to think about with obviously the cup final in the next 10 days or so.
"It's a wonderful thing to have in the armoury at the moment. I can only pick XI of course and I'm going to disappoint a few, of course I am, but that's the nature of football. There are a lot of them that deserve to play but I can only pick XI."
"Matty Fryatt showed us again what a good player he is. He has got a good goal today, made a difference when he came on, made a difference in the semi-final, so he has made a major statement for playing in the FA Cup final, that's for sure."
"It can't be dark times when you have got someone like Januzaj. He's only 18 and looks like a real player, and obviously the other kid has scored as well. They are always going to produce young players, it's in the DNA here - they always want to and they always will do. In Januzaj, they have got the outstanding player in Europe at the moment - at 18 he looks one hell of a player."
|11 May 2014||v Southampton (A)|
|29 Nov 2014||v Man Utd (H)|
|02 Dec 2014||v Man Utd (H)|
|08 Dec 2014||v Southampton (A)|
|14 Dec 2014||v Man Utd (H)|
|20 Dec 2014||v Aston Villa (A)|