Manchester United 2
Ferdinand [own goal] 57
Manchester United maintained their two-point lead over local rivals City at the top of the Premier League with an accomplished performance against a weakened Sunderland side.
The away side had plenty of the ball but lacked a cutting edge and might have been heavily beaten if Sir Alex Ferguson’s side had taken a host of chances they created, especially in the first quarter of the game.
There were only three minutes gone when the home side took the lead, Ryan Giggs picking up a loose ball in the middle of park advancing quickly before finding Wayne Rooney, whose exquisite cross was headed powerfully home by Dimitar Berbatov. It could easily have been two soon after when Rooney hit a lovely flighted shot that beat Craig Gordon only to flash agonisingly wide.
With Manchester United running riot Berbatov then hit the post with just nine minutes gone. Six minutes later the woodwork again came to the rescue of Steve Bruce’s side, Anderson this time being the unlucky player. A fine shot by Rooney was then well held by Gordon before Berbatov hit the side netting when he might have done better after he was left with just the keeper to shoot at.
Giggs was next to try his luck, forcing a fine save from Gordon as somehow Sunderland got to twenty five minutes just a goal down and after which Bruce dropped back Darren Bent, giving Sunderland five players in the midfield. As a consequence it became a lot more difficult for a side seeking a record 19th top-flight title success and it wasn’t until just before the break that Gordon was next called into serious action, the Scottish international making a confident save low down to foil Rooney.
When Anton Ferdinand soon after the restart blocked an Anderson shot from the edge of the area it seemed that Sunderland might even have a chance of getting something from the game. However on 57 minutes the Sunderland defender was unfortunate enough to score an own goal at Old Trafford for the second consecutive season, Berbatov’s shot deflecting off him to leave Gordon wrong footed as the ball dropped into the net. Having had such a fine game it was then something of a surprise to see Anderson substituted and his replacement Darron Gibson should have done better when left with a direct shot that Gordon had little trouble in saving.
Sunderland substitute David Meyler was a lucky lad soon after when his stud’s high challenge on Rafael da Silva was deemed only a yellow card by referee Phil Dowd. The away side finally had a shot on 78 minutes when Bolo Zenden gave Edwin van der Sar a chance to show he was still awake. This, of course, isn’t something that could ever be said about the crowd at Old Trafford; whose support for their side is frankly pathetic and despite having watched their side totally outplayed it was the away supporters who were in fine voice at the final whistle.