Rio crowns Fergie farewell

Rio Ferdinand crashed home a late winning goal to ensure Manchester United beat Swansea 2-1 and Sir Alex Ferguson left Old Trafford a winner.

Last Updated: 12/05/13 at 18:22 Post Comment

Rio Ferdinand: Celebrates his late winner

Rio Ferdinand: Celebrates his late winner

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Twenty years ago another central defender, Gary Pallister, scored his first of the season in the same goal in the penultimate match of Ferguson's first title-winning season.

Now Ferdinand has done the same in Ferguson's 13th and last championship of a staggering career that will end for good at West Brom next Sunday.

Indeed, it was the first time Ferdinand had found the net since 2008, although on such a grand occasion as this, it was fitting United should get a late - if not quite 'Fergie Time' - winner from someone who has worked with the Scot since his arrival from Leeds in 2002.

In addition he was United's 20th different scorer in this 20th championship season.

It was the perfect way for Ferguson to leave the stage he has occupied for so long, having already delivered one pretty bold statement.

Whilst you could tell what was unfolding in front of him did not matter quite so much given he merely opened his arms in questioning disbelief at Shinji Kagawa's failure to secure a penalty when he was flattened in the box, Ferguson had already made his mark.

One of the hallmarks of his entire reign has been the Scot's refusal to back away from the big decisions.

Today, in his final team selection at the ground where he has presided over an incredible 405 Premier League fixtures, Ferguson's did not change the habit of a lifetime and opt for the easy route.

So Wayne Rooney, whose relationship with his manager has been uneasy at best over the past few weeks and who had a transfer request rejected a fortnight ago, was dumped, left to watch from one of the corporate boxes as the rest of his team-mates got to experience at first hand the sizzling atmosphere that had been created.

David Moyes is not due to start work until July 1. It is impossible to imagine his input will not be required sooner though, if only to prevent Rooney's name hanging over the club throughout the summer.

Yet, as so often, Ferguson was proved correct.

It was Rooney's replacement Javier Hernandez who chipped an early effort against the bar that had been supplied by Robin van Persie.

And it was Hernandez who drove home his 17th goal of the season to put the hosts ahead after Ashley Williams had made a hash of trying to clear Van Persie's free-kick.

The goal brought a trademark fist-pump celebration from Ferguson in the dug-out, keen to ensure such a landmark day would end with the correct result.

It was all slightly unfortunate for Swansea, the obligatory guests at a party no-one wanted to speak to them at, other than to lambast them if they threatened to get in the way.

And that was exactly what they did five minutes into the second half, when United found themselves under pressure, failed to clear a corner and allowed Nathan Dyer to drill over a low cross from the right.

It hardly needed saying Michu would be the danger-man in such situations. United did not pick him up, though, and he duly turned home his 21st goal of an incredible debut campaign.

It punctured the atmosphere somewhat and Swansea gave every impression of wanting to spoil some more.

Pablo Hernandez brought an excellent save out of David de Gea, Wayne Routledge almost got the better of Ferdinand to force his way through and Dyer was a menace to United's defence.

They held firm though, and Anderson almost put the hosts back in front when he drilled a low shot wide 20 minutes from time.

The Brazilian had replaced Scholes not long before, quite possibly marking the end of the 38-year-old's entire career.

In truth, it was not one of Scholes' most effective displays, although there were a few sublime passes and a typically thunderous first-half challenge on Routledge.

But the standing ovation he received was for a career that will see him rightly go down as the finest player of his generation.

All it needed at the end was a winner. Ferdinand supplied it, allowing Ferguson to leave Old Trafford in the most appropriate manner possible.

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1 Chelsea 4 9 12
2 A Villa 4 3 10
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6 Tottenham 4 2 7
7 Arsenal 4 1 6
8 Liverpool 4 1 6
9 Man Utd 4 3 5
10 Hull City 4 0 5
11 Everton 4 -1 5
12 Leicester 4 -1 5
13 West Ham 4 -1 4
14 Stoke 4 -1 4
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16 QPR 4 -8 3
17 C Palace 4 -3 2
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20 Newcastle 4 -6 2

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