There have been goals scored later than this at Old Trafford in the last 26 years, there have been much more significant wins than this, but Rio Ferdinand’s goal in the 87th minute is unique in being the last late winner of Sir Alex Ferguson’s Old Trafford years.
There were times when the sheer magnitude of the occasion seemed to inhibit this United team - as it had when they lost Manchester City on the 50th anniversary of the Munich air disaster - but eventually they found an extra gear to win the game as they have done so often over the years. For much of it, Swansea were the better team but that alone is not enough to win games at Old Trafford.
To do that, you have to take your chances, and there was a key moment on 53 minutes when Swansea almost did. Michu, who had scored an excellent equaliser earlier, played in Wayne Routledge who held off Ferdinand and just put his shot wide of David De Gea’s post. There was also a chance for Pablo Hernandez that De Gea saved well.
With three minutes remaining, the ball bounced to Ferdinand at the back post and his half-volley was struck so hard, the base of the goal was lifted off the ground. In the first half, Javier Hernandez had seized on Ashley Williams’ mistake to score the first.
For Swansea, ninth place is assured and they could finish as high as eighth on Sunday if they beat Fulham and West Brom lose to United. That is some achievement for Michael Laudrup’s first season, put alongside the League Cup victory, although he warned later that the clubs below Swansea would be spending big in the summer.
It was also the last Old Trafford outing for Scholes, this time for good, who was given a start by Ferguson. A goal would have been the perfect send-off but there had only been one previously all season. In the end, the attention was all elsewhere, which is exactly as Scholes would have liked it.