Manchester United unearthed a potential star of the future and perhaps had one last glimpse of a great of its recent past in a 3-1 win over Hull on Tuesday that kept alive the team's chances of European football next season.
Highly rated striker James Wilson, 18, marked his senior debut for United with predatory strikes in either half, setting the deposed champions on their way to a victory in their final home game of a forgettable Premier League campaign.
Ryan Giggs — at the other end of the age spectrum at 40 — came on for his 963rd, and possibly final, appearance for United in the second half and set up fellow substitute Robin van Persie for the clinching third goal in the 86th.
Giggs, taking charge of his third game as United's interim manager following the firing of David Moyes last month, has not decided whether to take his distinguished playing career into a 24th year next season. And his future as a coach at United is uncertain while the club searches for Moyes' replacement, which is likely to be current Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal.
An emotional Old Trafford also bade farewell to defender Nemanja Vidic, who is joining Inter Milan in the summer after more than eight years at United, on a night that had an end-of-era feel to it.
Wilson, though, offered positive signs for the future as part of a youthful lineup that included another debutant in 20-year-old forward Tom Lawrence.
Jones injury could affect World Cup hopes
Addressing supporters in a short speech on the pitch after the final whistle, Giggs said: "You have seen a little glimpse of the future, and this is what this club is about. We never stand still. We always give youth a chance, and we try and play attractive football."
The victory moved United three points behind sixth-place Tottenham in the race for the final Europa League spot available in the league, with one game remaining. United last failed to qualify for Europe in 1990.
Vidic began on the bench after accepting a memento from United great Bobby Charlton before kickoff but was a 22nd-minute substitute for Phil Jones, who came off with a shoulder injury sustained in an aerial collision.
Giggs said Jones, who was expected to be in England's World Cup squad, had been taken to hospital and that it "didn't look great."
Big things are expected of Wilson, who has played for England Under-16s and Under-19s and has scored 19 goals for United's Under-21 team this season.
And he showed his striker's instincts just in the 31st, reacting quickly to Marouane Fellaini's nod-down from a free kick to slam a left-foot shot low into the net from the edge of the six-yard box.
When he slotted in a rebound from a similar distance after Fellaini's shot was parried out by goalkeeper Eldin Jakupovic in the 61st, Wilson was on course to emulate Wayne Rooney's feat from 2004 of scoring a hat trick on his debut. He was substituted three minutes later, however, but the Old Trafford crowd will surely be seeing more of him.
Giggs entered to rousing applause in the 70th and showed flashes of the brilliance that has illuminated Old Trafford since 1991.
With the home fans chanting "Keeper, let it in," Giggs had a long-range free kick tipped over by Jakupovic in injury time — perhaps bringing to an end his run of scoring in every Premier League season since its inception in 1992.
Hull, which is safe from relegation, halved the deficit in the 63rd minute through Matty Fryatt but the match ended on a sour note with David Meyler appearing to stamp on United winger Adnan Januzaj.
The incident was not seen by the referee and any retrospective punishment could lead to Meyler missing the FA Cup final against Arsenal on May 17.
"I have not seen the stamp but I have seen his leg," Giggs said, "and it is bad. It is a joke."