The veteran midfielder marked his final appearance for the club where he has spent the whole of a career stretching back two decades with a magnificent right-foot shot beyond Brad Friedel and into the top corner.
Legends: Paul Scholes is presented to the Old Trafford crowd by Pele (above) and then opens the scoring against New York Cosmos with a trademark strike (below)
A crowd of 74,731 wanted Scholes to be given a chance to score United's second from the penalty spot when Ashley Young was brought down but he modestly passed the duties to Wayne Rooney. Anderson, Danny Welbeck and Mame Biram Diouf (2), among seven half-time substitutes, completed a 6-0 win for United.
Scholes - who scored 150 goals in 676 games for United - was given a standing ovation when he left the pitch 16 minutes from time, having received a great reception when he walked out with his three children earlier as the crowd held up cards that spelled out the word 'Genius'.
Man of honour: Scholes walks through a guard of honour on to the Old Trafford pitch for one last time with his children, Arron, Alicia and Aiden
Star quality: Pele presents a signed New York Cosmos shirt to Scholes (left), while Sir Alex Ferguson and Eric Cantona share a joke (right)
He was also presented with a Cosmos shirt by Pele and Old Trafford legend Eric Cantona, who are both on the management team of the revived New York club.
A club without a team of their own, the Cosmos fielded a number of their Under-23 development squad alongside current Premier League stars Friedel, Robbie Keane, Michel Salgado and Wayne Bridge, as well as big European names like Fabio Cannavaro and Patrick Vieira.
Spot on: Wayne Rooney scores his team's second goal from the penalty spot in the 6-0 win
End of an era: Scholes is congratulated by Sir Alex Ferguson after coming off to a standing ovation
Fittingly, Scholes also played against Gary Neville and Nicky Butt, two other members of United's famous class of '95, and his former Old Trafford team-mate Dwight Yorke.
Although United did not over-exert themselves ahead of Sunday's Community Shield against Manchester City, Sir Alex Ferguson played a strong team throughout in honour of a player he described in his programme notes as 'one of the finest of his generation'.
Ferguson added later: 'It's a sad parting but age catches up with everyone, especially footballers.'It was a typical Paul Scholes strike - the keeper had no chance.'
Interviewed on the pitch, Scholes said: 'I just hope I've given the fans a few memories over the years.'
Fitting tribute: Manchester United fans spell out their opinion of the long-serving midfielder
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