"A fantastic experience" was how Henrik Larsson summed up his stay at Manchester United FC following a memorable farewell at Old Trafford last night.
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'Enjoyed every second'
Larsson headed the only goal of United's first knockout round second leg against LOSC Lille Métropole as Sir Alex Ferguson's side secured a 2-0 aggregate success. Afterwards Larsson reflected on a successful three-month spell on loan from Helsingborgs IF, which will end after Saturday's FA Cup tie at Middlesbrough FC. "It's been fantastic playing for one of the biggest clubs in the world," he told uefa.com. "They've been so great for me here, all the players, the club, everything. It's been a fantastic experience. I am leaving for home on Sunday but I've enjoyed every second of my time here."
Larsson broke Lille's stubborn resistance by heading into the far corner following fine work by Cristiano Ronaldo. "It was a great cross from Cristiano," said the Swede. "I took a gamble on the front post and I put it in." Larsson's strike dispelled the air of frustration around Old Trafford on a night of few clear scoring opportunities (and a combined total of just three attempts on goal). "I think we played OK and we managed to get a goal in the end," added the 35-year-old. "They didn't create anything. We kept them at bay for long spells and didn't have any problems. In the end it was a good performance."
Larsson has scored three goals in 12 appearances for the English Premiership leaders and Sir Alex was keen for the veteran to extend his loan stay. However, Larsson reiterated his reasons for returning home: "I signed a contract with Helsingborg last year and that is a contract I have to honour. The season is starting in Sweden in the first week of April and that is why I have to go home."
'We will miss him'
Defender Nemanja Vidić admitted that United, who will be without Louis Saha for the next four weeks with a hamstring strain, would be sorry to see Larsson go. "Of course we will miss him," said the Serbian international. "He's a good lad and he helped us a lot." However, Larsson stressed that he was confident in United's UEFA Champions League prospects without him. "They have a big squad and a lot of quality players. Everything is possible. You never know who you are going to get in the next round but they do have a lot of quality."