Wayne Rooney’s second-half double was enough to give Manchester United victory over a stubborn Sunderland side, who had ex-Red Wes Brown sent off in a case of mistaken identity.
The Reds captain fired home a penalty in the 66th minute at Old Trafford after Radamel Falcao had been brought down in the box by John O’Shea when poised to pull the trigger. Referee Roger East showed a red card to Brown, despite the protests of his fellow former Reds stalwart O’Shea.
United, playing in a traditional 4-4-2 formation, saw out the game comfortably from there, having been frustrated by Gus Poyet’s well-organised side up that point, and Rooney headed a second from close range with six minutes to go.
Louis van Gaal made five changes to the side that lost at Swansea City last weekend. Falcao partnered Rooney up front, with Jonny Evans and Chris Smalling at the heart of the defence. Robin van Persie, Phil Jones and Luke Shaw were all ruled out.
And it was captain Rooney who had the first chance of the game in the fourth minute, directing his header wide from a corner when well placed inside the box.
Sunderland quickly demonstrated they would not be content to sit back all afternoon. Connor Wickham was allowed to carry the ball to the edge of United’s box and get away a low shot, which David De Gea palmed round his post, and Jermain Defoe curled just over from 20 yards soon after.