Manchester United went top of the Barclays Premier League after dispatching a stubborn Sunderland outfit by three goals to nil with strikes from Memphis, Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata. 

Memphis put United in front deep into first-half injury time following a tricky opening period, before captain Rooney doubled the Reds’ advantage shortly after the break. The hosts then enjoyed a comfortable second half, with Juan Mata wrapping up the result in the 90th minute, as United leapfrogged rivals City to take pole position for the first time under Louis van Gaal.

The boss made five changes to the team that started against Ipswich Town in midweek, with Matteo Darmian, Michael Carrick, Morgan Schneiderlin, Memphis and Anthony Martial all given the nod to start. It was a strong, attacking XI, and the Reds began the game very much on the front foot.

Two of the players reinstated to the line-up – Memphis and Martial – were heavily involved early on, linking up well with Rooney and Mata, the other half of United’s attacking quartet. The fine opening from the home side yielded its first opportunity on six minutes when a Matteo Darmian cross into the box skimmed the head of Anthony Martial, who was on the hunt for his fifth goal in five matches. A further half-chance followed only minutes later, but Memphis could not bring Carrick’s arrowed reverse ball under control.

Sunderland responded well to United’s bright start, as the Black Cats – wearing their bright green away strip – began to assert themselves on the match. Still, a John O’Shea header aside, chances remained at a minimum for the visitors as van Gaal’s men continued to probe for a break through.

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