Manchester United eased to a 3-1 victory over Sunderland at Old Trafford on Saturday. Goals from Robin van Persie, Tom Cleverley and Wayne Rooney were enough to see off the often times feeble challenge of the Black Cats.
United entered the game still coming off of the massive win over Manchester City last week and looked a team full of confidence as the game got off to a start. For the opening moments of the match, Sunderland barely troubled United's half let alone David de Gea and his defense. It was all United and the home side punished Sunderland early. Ashley Young, who finally seems to be recapturing the form he was in last season, made a threatening run into the box and turned passed two defenders to send in a cross towards van Persie. Ex-United defender John O'Shea miss hit the ball which fell right to the Dutch striker who easily slammed the ball home into the upper left corner. Van Persie is now on 12 goals for the season and in addition to all of his goals, his link up play with Rooney is beginning to become world class.
The nicest goal of the game however, came three minutes later. With United continuing to dominate, Michael Carrick fed Cleverley the ball with a brilliant one touch pass and the young English midfielder finished a beautiful chance. 2-0 up and a seemingly bad injury for Sunderland forward Steven Fletcher, the game looked over for the Black Cats before halftime. Sunderland struggled to get forward and United's attack was dominating proceedings. The first 45 could not have ended sooner for Martin O' Neill's men.
The second half started with United continuing to exert total control over the game. Michael Carrick was substituted for Paul Scholes and, after a series of near misses, Rooney finally added his name to the scoresheet in the 59th minute. A brilliant run by van Persie led to the Dutch striker picking out Rooney who just managed to get a toe on the ball to send it into the back of the net. 3-0 up, United began to ease up on the pressure and Sunderland had their moments. De Gea was called upon to make a few saves and the man marking in United's backline began to look a bit shaky. The 68th minute was the moment everyone was waiting for however, when Rio Ferdinand made way for Nemanja Vidic. 10 minutes before that, Vidic got a huge cheer when he got off the bench to begin warming up and the Old Trafford crowd was roaring their support when the Serbian finally came into the match.
Despite Vidic's inclusion, United were still unable to keep a clean sheet as Fraizer Campbell scored a header to grab one back for the visitors. Campbell was left completely unmarked to finish an easy chance. The goal put a slight damper on a night where United were in complete control. The defense still shows signs of weakness but with Vidic back, the Red Devils can hope that their defensive problems will be corrected. United move back to six points clear at the top of the table.
Man of the Match: Robin van Persie. The striker took his goal with such coolness that only a world class forward can do. He remained a threat to the Sunderland defense for the whole 90 minutes and the Black Cat's backline often looked helpless on how to stop him. A great assist for Rooney's goal added to his excellent performance.
Manchester United: David de Gea; Patrice Evra, Phil Jones, Rio Ferdinand (Nemanja Vidic), Chris Smalling; Antonio Valencia, Michael Carrick (Paul Scholes), Ashley Young, Tom Cleverley (Ryan Giggs); Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie
Sunderland: Simon Mignolet; Jack Colback (James McFadden), John O'Shea, Titus Bramble, Carlos Jimenez Cuellar; Sebastian Larsson, Craig Gardner, Adam Johnson (Frazier Campbell), James McClean; Steven Fletcher (Connor Wickham), Stephane Sessegnon
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