Premier League leaders Manchester United beat Sunderland 3-1 at Old Trafford
Last Updated: 16/12/12 7:24am
Goals from Robin van Persie, Tom Cleverley and Wayne Rooney saw Manchester United beat Sunderland 3-1 and restore their six-point lead at the top of the Premier League.
Van Persie notched on 16 minutes, Cleverley scored three minutes later and Rooney added a second-half effort before substitute Fraizer Campbell headed a consolation against his old club for the Black Cats.
Best of the match
- Man of the match: Robin van Persie: The Dutch goal machine scored and provided Rooney's goal assist as United cruised to victory.
- Goal of the match: Tom Cleverley's. The United midfielder played a delightful one-two with Michael Carrick before slotting into the far bottom corner.
- Shot of the match: Ashley Young's powerful early effort from the edge of the box was touched over by Simon Mignolet.
- Save of the match: David De Gea. United's keeper produced a great double save to deny Craig Gardener and Stephane Sessegnon.
- Moment of the match: Nemanja Vidic came on to great applause as a second-half substitute for his first United appearance since September
- Talking point: Manchester United showed their title credentials with a comfortable victory to restore their six point lead at the top. Sunderland hover just a point above the drop zone at the other end.
The 3-1 win came after Manchester City had beaten Newcastle by the same scoreline in the early kick-off and handed the advantage back to United in the title race.
Buoyed by their last-gasp 3-2 derby win over City on Sunday, Sir Alex Ferguson's side started strongly at Old Trafford, with Phil Jones forcing Simon Mignolet into an early save.
The Sunderland keeper then had to tip over a powerful dive from the edge of the box from Ashley Young, while Patrice Evra shot over soon afterwards.
United's pressure paid off when Van Persie slotted home from eight yards out after John O'Shea deflected Young's cross into his path.
Mignolet then produced a great save to his left to deny a Van Persie header, but could do nothing to stop Cleverley's shot into the bottom corner after the United midfielder had played a delightful one-two with Michael Carrick to open the Sunderland defence up.
Now well on top, Rooney shot wide after Van Persie had teed up his strike partner, and then headed just wide from Evra's cross.
But Sunderland refused to lie down and accept defeat. First James McClean forced David De Gea into a near post save and Evra had to head out Stephane Sessegnon's powerful effort.
McClean's long-range effort then took a slight deflection off Cleverley but De Gea saved as United went into the interval with their two-goal lead intact.
Soon after the restart, Titus Bramble deflected Rooney's close-range effort onto the bar, while at the other end, De Gea produced a great double save to first deny Craig Gardner and then Sessegnon.
Van Persie shot wide while trying to chip the onrushing Mignolet, before he did well to tee up Rooney for United's third on 59 minutes to seal the three points.
United club captain Nemanja Vidic came on for his first appearance since September but could not stop substitute Campbell heading home Sessegnon's cross from close range as Sunderland earned a consolation goal with 18 minutes remaining.
|Manchester United||Team Statistics||Sunderland|
|2||1st Half Goals||0|
|5||Shots on Target||7|
|9||Shots off Target||3|
|69.6||1st Half Poss.||30.4|
|56.3||2nd Half Poss.||43.7|
Barclays Premier League
|12||West Ham United||38||47|
|13||West Bromwich Albion||38||44|
|20||Queens Park Rangers||38||30|