Larsson scores on debut – but rules out full transfer

Henrik Larsson scored on his Manchester United debut as Sir Alex Ferguson's side defeated Aston Villa 2-1 in a dramatic FA Cup third round tie at Old Trafford on Sunday.

“I’m obviously delighted but we won the game and that’s the most important thing,” said the Swede in an interview with the BBC after the match.

“It was nice to get a goal as well.”

The former Celtic and Barcelona forward launched his 10 week loan stint from Helsingborg in style to the delight of more than 70,000 fans as he fired United into a 55th minute lead.

The question on the lips of every United supporters was whether Ferguson would start with Larsson, thus making the Swede the oldest striker the United manager has ever used.

Looking sleek and slender, 35 going on 25, Larsson’s name was greeted with thunderous applause from another full house as his name was read out over the speakers.

There was a danger that Larsson has been so hyped it could cloud Old Trafford in anti-climax if he did not come up with the goods, but there was never any danger of that.

Despite his age he was the liveliest player on the pitch in the opening exchanges. It was Larsson who forced Gabour Kiraly into his first serious save in the 16th minute, an effort which the Villa keeper dealt with comfortably.

United’s new No 17 also had a goal-bound header saved before setting up a 21st minute chance for Wayne Rooney after a clever flick which the England striker failed to grasp.

Rooney has now gone six games without scoring and he looked out of sorts when presented with another chance by Larsson in the 36th minute. With only Kiraly to beat, Rooney delayed his effort allowing Dutch defender Wilfred Bouma to make a last-ditch tackle.

Then came Larsson’s best chance to mark his debut with a goal. A delicious pass by Michael Carrick carved open the Villa defence but Larsson had his head in his hands as Kiraly’s outstretched leg prevented his effort from finding the net.

But the industrious Swedish marksman was not to be denied. A neat 55th move involving Carrick, Ronaldo and Rooney resulted in Larsson rifling home from 16-yards to send Old Trafford wild.

“It was a good goal, a good ball from Wayne,” said Larsson.

“I’ve always said it’s easy to play with good players – and he’s definitely a good player.”

United went close to making it 2-0 from Ryan Giggs’ free-kick but the Welshman was denied by the woodwork.

Czech Republic ace Baros equalised after Gary Cahill’s effort was blocked but just as Villa were settling for a replay, Norwegian Ole Gunnar Solskjaer netted the winner from the edge of the box.

But the blistering start need not unnerve the board back at Helsingborg: there is no question of the loan deal being converted to a permanent agreement, said Larsson.

“It’s a three month deal and I have to be back when the Swedish league is starting. It’s starting in April and the [transfer] window is closing in March, so I don’t think it’s going to happen, no,” he said.