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Marouane Fellaini celebrates his winning goal against Arsenal

Manchester United 2 Arsenal 1

Manchester United’s never-say-die streak sealed a late win against Arsenal to wreck Arsene Wenger’s final match at Old Trafford as Gunners boss. Reds manager Jose Mourinho outsmarted his rival as substitute Marouane Fellaini headed in a late winner in front of the Stretford End.

The Belgian proved a handful for Arsenal’s defence late on and it proved a masterstroke from Mourinho. United had gone ahead early through Paul Pogba but Fellaini’s winner wiped out a potential point-winner for Henrikh Mkhitaryan who had equalised in the second half on his first return to the Theatre of Dreams.
United’s three points confirmed Champions League football again at Old Trafford next season as it rubber-stamped a top-four finish. Old feuds were forgotten prior to kick-off with the club making a classy gesture of a special memento to Wenger, who clearly had one eye on the Europa League semi-final second leg with Atletico Madrid as he made eight changes to his side. 
It didn’t take long for United to make Wenger’s last time as Gunners boss initially uncomfortable when taking a 16th-minute lead. Pogba started and finished the move. The France midfielder stroked a pass to Romelu Lukaku and went driving on into the area. Lukaku’s cross was met with a header from Alexis Sanchez. His hopes of a dream goal against his former employers were dashed as his effort hit Hector Bellerin and came off a post, only for Pogba to volley home.

Not surprisingly, there was none of the electrifying tension of those heady days that had characterised the Sir Alex and Wenger clashes from yesteryear. But there was still quality to be witnessed if only a small amount of penalty-box action in the first half.

If Alexis was searching for that satisfying goal against his old club it was the same scenario for Henrikh Mkhitaryan. The Armenian went the opposite way up the M1 in January to the Chilean when the pair swapped clubs and he was the source of much of Arsenal’s fluent attacking moves. But it was still all pretty easy for David De Gea. His opposite number David Ospina also didn’t have a lot to do but he was saved by an upright in the 40th minute when an Ashley Young cross crashed against the woodwork. 
The second 45 minutes was barely underway before Lukaku suffered an injury after a challenge by Konstantinos Mavropanos. The Belgium striker attempted to run off the knock and tested it as play went on but he had to give up and was replaced in the 50th minute by Marcus Rashford. Almost immediately, Arsenal were level and it was Mkhitaryan who had the gratification of scoring for the Gunners. United gave away possession loosely in our own half and, with the help of Granit Xhaka, Mkhitaryan seized on the error to stride forward and place a low right-footed shot past De Gea. The last time the midfielder had scored at Old Trafford was for the Reds against Everton in September. He barely celebrated this time, presumably out of respect to his former employers.

There was a stream of substitutions in the 64th minute. Mourinho took off Ander Herrera and Jesse Lingard for Anthony Martial and eventual matchwinner Fellaini. Wenger brought on ex-United striker Danny Welbeck and Nacho Monreal for Reiss Nelson and the injured Sead Kolasinac.

Mancunian Welbeck was the first sub to make an impact with a full blooded long-range shot that was saved by De Gea. At the other end, Chris Smalling had the chance to keep up his recent scoring form but the defender couldn’t connect properly with a side-foot chance provided by a dangerous pass from Martial. 
Marouane Fellaini heads the ball towards the Arsenal net
Fellaini's towering back-header sealed the victory for the Reds
United fans gave Mkhitaryan a warm round of applause when he was substituted to make way for Joe Willock in the 76th minute. Old Trafford thought United had delivered the final blow to Wenger in the 87th minute when sub Rashford bundled the ball into the net off a post from Fellaini’s header, and a terrific inviting cross from Martial, but the striker was ruled offside.

The disappointment was short lived as a similar move reaped its reward a minute into added time. Young sent over the cross and Fellaini was able to connect and divert a header past Ospina for the winner.


United: De Gea; Valencia (c), Smalling, Lindelof, Young; Matic, Pogba, Herrera (Martial 64); Lingard (Fellaini 64), Alexis; Lukaku (Rashford 50).  

Subs not used:
J. Pereira, Rojo, Mata, McTominay. 

Ospina, Bellerin, Chambers, Mavropanos, Kolasinac (Monreal 64), Xhaka (C), Maitland-Niles, Iwobi, Nelson (Welbeck 64), Mkhitaryan (Willock 76), Aubameyang

Subs not used:
Cech, Holding, Osei-Tutu, Nketiah.   

Booked: Xhaka

Are Wembley places still on offer? 
Jose Mourinho only made one change from the side that came back at Wembley to beat Spurs 2-1 in the Emirates FA Cup semi-final. The only alteration being Victor Lindelof for Phil Jones. It suggests he may have decided on the make-up of his attack and engine room with the Matic-Pogba-Herrera trio the base of his midfield. Alexis and Lukaku have become the go-to front men. 

Can United and Arsenal revive old showdowns next season? 
The Reds certainly can. An indefatigable spirit has been re-installed and United are ahead in terms of replacing a legendary boss. It remains to be seen whom Arsenal choose to take them on after this year.


Jose Mourinho takes his side to the south coast this coming Friday night, 4 May, to play Brighton in the Premier League. Kick-off is at 20:00 BST.