Premier League | Sunderland 0 Manchester United 3
Goals from Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Marcus Rashford ensured Manchester United returned to winning ways in the Premier League with a convincing victory over 10-man Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.
Ibra fired the Reds ahead with a stunning 20-yard strike on 30 minutes before his Swedish compatriot, Sebastian Larsson, saw red for a high challenge on Ander Herrera shortly before the half-time break.
Mkhitaryan doubled the lead within a minute of the restart, drilling home a brilliant shot for his eighth goal for the club. Second-half substitute Rashford then rounded off a comfortable win late on, as the Reds moved up to fifth in the table after extending the unbeaten run in the league to 21 games.
Jose Mourinho made five changes to the starting XI from Tuesday’s 1-1 draw against Everton, with Marouane Fellaini captaining the side from the start for the first time, while a “small problem” meant David De Gea’s impressive run of 63 successive league starts in goal came to an end.
United made a positive start on a gloriously-sunny afternoon on Wearside as Jesse Lingard, fresh from signing a new four-year contract in midweek, took aim from 20 yards with a fierce right-footed effort which was kept out by Sunderland keeper Jordan Pickford. After Marcos Rojo was fouled by Larsson from the same distance, Ibrahimovic’s free-kick could not get past Sunderland’s solid defensive wall.
Sunderland grew into the game and began to pose a threat themselves as Sergio Romero was brought into action for the first time, keeping out a fierce effort from Sunderland captain Lee Cattermole before Jermain Defoe fired wide from an offside position when latching onto a Jack Rodwell pass.
After a driving run, Lingard went close with a low shot from the edge of the box that Pickford did well to push behind for a corner. But, after 30 minutes, United made the breakthrough in fine style from Ibrahimovic as the striker collected a Herrera pass, rolled Billy Jones, cut inside and smashed a low shot into the corner of the net. It is his 28th goal of a prolific debut season in English football.
United were then indebted to a fine piece of goalkeeping from Romero, making his 12th appearance of the season, as the Argentine stopper made an excellent block to deny Victor Anichebe from close range.
Sunderland had a terrible time just before half-time when they lost Bryan Oviedo to a leg injury, before Larsson was then given his marching orders by referee Craig Pawson for a studs-up challenge on Herrera.