24/05/2009 14:45, Report by Nick Coppack
Hull 0 United 1
There were smiles all around the KC Stadium at the final whistle, although United took home the points in Hull courtesy of a Darron Gibson screamer.
The Reds, crowned champions last week, finished the season four points clear of Liverpool, while results elsewhere ensured Hull’s top-flight survival and prompted wild celebrations in the stands.
Gibson’s first-half goal – lashed into the top corner from outside the box – settled an entertaining affair that gave United fans plenty of reasons to smile, not least because of how well the Reds’ youngsters acquitted themselves on such a tense occasion.
Only Darren Fletcher – suspended for Wednesday’s Champions League final – remained from the team that drew 0-0 against Arsenal at Old Trafford eight days earlier. Indeed, Sir Alex reshuffled his pack so much that even his left-back – young Belgian defender Ritchie De Laet – will have been unfamiliar to most United fans.
Elsewhere, Lee Martin earned a league debut and Wes Brown returned to action after almost four months on the sidelines. In midfield, Fletcher partnered Gibson in the centre of the park, with Nani and Danny Welbeck on the flanks. Federico Macheda started up front, with Martin playing just behind the Italian.
Hull, playing for their top-flight survival, began brightly and forced two early corners. But the Reds held firm, Kuszczak meeting the second with a confident clearing punch. The Polish stopper was called on again in the eighth minute, this time diving bravely at Craig Fagan’s feet.
Young Ritchie De Laet was earning his stripes against the Tigers, too, bombing forward with gusto down the left flank and, in defence, proving why the Reds were moved to secure his services from Stoke City back in January.
With so much