United gives Ferguson winning home farewell

Associated Press SHARE

MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Amid a carnival atmosphere at a rainy Old Trafford, Manchester United gave Alex Ferguson and Paul Scholes a winning sendoff in their final home match.

Rio Ferdinand scored his first Premier League goal in five years, breaking an 86th-minute tie in a 2-1 win over Swansea on Sunday.

The 71-year-old Ferguson said Wednesday he is retiring at the end of the season after nearly 27 years as United manager. He jumped out of his seat and punched the air in delight when Ferdinand volleyed the go-ahead goal into the back of the net.

Ferguson spoke to the crowd from the field after the final whistle, praising his players and staff. He was the first person presented a Premier League winner's medal and lifted the trophy during the postgame celebration.

Scholes played 66 minutes in his last home match before coming off to a standing ovation from more than 76,000 fans, taking one final opportunity to salute a manager and player who have contributed so much to the club over the past three decades.

Javier Hernandez put United in front in the 39th, and Michu tied it for Swansea 10 minutes later. United had clinched its record 20th English league title on April 22.

United (28-5-4) closes its season at West Bromwich Albion next Sunday, so this was the final opportunity for the club's fans to witness, and savor, the end of Ferguson's reign. Since he took over in November 1986, United won 13 Premier League titles, two Champions Leagues, five FA Cups, four League Cups and one Cup Winners' Cup among 38 major trophies.

Both teams formed a guard of honor as Ferguson emerged from the tunnel onto the field, with a sea of red flags bearing "Champions 2013" providing an eye-catching backdrop.

As Ferguson made his way to the dugout, waving to the crowd and signing a batch of autographs along the way, the focus of the majority of the crowd turned to the 38-year-old Scholes, who was playing his 717th match for United and first since the end of January following his recovery from a knee injury.

Scholes, 38, ended his career having played 17,606 Premier League minutes at Old Trafford since signing a professional contract in 1993. He retired in May 2011, then returned the following January.

Ferguson's goal was his first since Jan. 12, 2008, and he came the 20th scorer in the league for United this season.

Ferguson didn't dress Wayne Rooney, increasing speculation the forward could be sold this summer. Rooney watched the game with his family from an executive box. Television cameras spotted a smiling Rooney unfurling a red flag with "Champions 2013"; written on it.

There was no indication from United that Rooney was injured.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.