Rossi off mark in United win
By Adam Marshall. Last Updated: January 1, 1970 1:00am
Manchester United relied heavily on Wayne Rooney's exceptional talent once again in securing a flattering 3-1 win at Sunderland.
The scoreline does not tell the true story of the game as Edwin van der Sar had to be at his best to keep out the spirited home side but Giuseppe Rossi scored the first of what should be many Premiership goals on his debut after his arrival on the scene as a late substitute.
Rooney had given United a totally undeserved 1-0 lead at the break and it was his pass that released Ruud van Nistelrooy for the second strike. Stephen Elliott's first of the domestic season gave The Black Cats hope and only a stunning save from van der Sar prevented Anthony Le Tallec making it 2-2.
Rossi clinched a hard-earned three points when Rooney was again the provider as the little Italian drilled past Kelvin Davis with the aid of a deflection off Gary Breen.
Sunderland started the better, forcing a corner in the first minute, but it seemed a low-key game for long periods. Breen saw a header tipped onto the frame of the goal by van der Sar from Liam Lawrence's flag-kick as the North East side carved out the better openings.
Elliott shot wide after a fine Tommy Miller tackle on Alan Smith and van der Sar clutched gratefully when Andy Welsh threatened as the hosts continued to have the better of the proceedings. Awful defending by Mikael Silvestre presented Elliott with an opening but the Irishman was wasteful in trying to cross when the shot was the obvious option.
Against the run of play, United broke with van Nistelrooy releasing Park down the left and his pass found Rooney in acres of space with Cristiano Ronaldo also free behind him. Rooney did not need any assistance, though, luring Davis out with a strong touch, rounding the keeper and finding the net via the arm of Justin Hoyte.
United had to improve after the interval, and they did, but only after Hoyte had struck off target following a promising run.
Davis had to make a fine save to divert a Rooney cross away from van Nistelrooy after fine work from the ex-Everton star to get past Breen before the disappointing Ronaldo was wasteful on a breakaway raid.
Van Nistelrooy had a shot blocked by the brave Nyron Nosworthy and the Dutchman teed up Park Ji-sung but the Korean's goalbound effort was hacked off the line by Breen.
It proved to be only a reprieve as Rooney threaded a gorgeous through ball into van Nistelrooy's path on 76 minutes, the United top scorer outsprinting Steve Caldwell and finishing clinically past Davis's despairing dive. He was replaced soon afterwards by exciting prodigy Rossi, for his Premiership debut.
The Wearsiders looked beaten and it was a subdued Stadium of Light before Mick McCarthy's men sprung into life again. Welsh tested van der Sar but even the Dutch giant could do nothing about a sublime strike by Elliott with eight minutes left. Welsh and Whitehead created half an opening on the edge of the box and Elliott swept a curling drive devastatingly into the far corner of the net.
Suddenly, we had a game on our hands and it was entertaining stuff in the closing stages. Rossi was inches away from converting another inviting Rooney centre and Ronaldo's shot was tipped around a post by Davis.
At the other end, Silvestre's clumsy challenge on Le Tallec produced a free kick just outside the area despite the Frenchman's cheeky attempt to make a second fall to the ground inside the box. The Liverpool loanee took the set-piece himself and would have scored but for van der Sar's athletic stretch to palm it away, Elliott firing the rebound into the side-netting.
United stormed up the other end with Rooney playing in Rossi and the confident youngster trained his sights and shot home, off Breen, to the obvious delight of his team-mates who mobbed the teenager in jubilation.
At least those present will be able to say they saw his first goal for Manchester United because he has the talent to go a long way in the game.
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|Sunderland||Team Name||Manchester United|
|4||Shots on target ( Inc Goals )||4|
|4||Shots off Target (inc woodwork)||6|
|12||Total Fouls Conceded||12|
Barclays Premier League
|8||West Bromwich Albion||38||49|
|10||West Ham United||38||46|
|20||Queens Park Rangers||38||25|