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“United United, Top of the League!” Rang Around The Stadium: Manchester United 3-0 Sunderland Match Report

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Anthony Martial

Manchester United 3-0 Sunderland Match Report

Two and a half years. A hundred and ten weeks. That is how long it’s been since Man United were last top of the league. With City dropping the baton at White Hart Lane earlier on, 3 points against a struggling Sunderland was enough for United to go top, the first time Sir Alex Retired. It had been a good week so far for United. Coming from behind to beat Southampton in a game where they scored a goal comprising of 45 passes. Beating Ipswich 3-0 comfortably in the League Cup with Martial getting his fourth in as many games.  With City’s loss now, the advantage was there to be taken.

Rojo suffered a hamstring injury last weekend which meant Manchester United were forced to make another change in that left back position. Darmian moved to the left with the Argentineans replacement Valencia, starting at right back. For Sunderland, Advocaat called upon the experience of John O’Shea and Lee Cattermole along with Adam Johnson replacing Coates, Gomez and Jermaine Defoe.

In an opening 45 minutes that saw United dominate the ball, they created hardly anything. Pantilimon had very little to do in the Sunderland goal as the frustration grew inside of Old Trafford. Despite United’s mighty share of possession, it was O’Shea who forced De Gea to make the first save with a looping header. Jermaine Lens then had the opportunity to give Sunderland the lead but was once again thwarted by the United number one. United were patient in their build-up but were unable to find that incisive final ball. Darmian and Valencia had the freedom to fly down the wings and it was the former’s cross early on which could only skim off the head of Martial. United looked threatening down the left with the combination of Martial, Darmian and Memphis. Twice Memphis beat his man and got to a good position; however he never got his head up and lost the ball. As we headed into the last of the four additional minutes being played, United finally got the breakthrough. A fantastic aerial ball by Daley Blind from the middle of the park found the run of Juan Mata who squared it for a simple tap in to Memphis. The Dutchman’s first Premier League goal, superbly set up by Blind and Mata.

Sunderland made one change at half-time with Steven Fletcher coming on for Adam Johnson. However, that didn’t stop United getting off to an absolute flyer in the second half. It was Anthony Martial with brilliant play once again down the right-hand side. Getting past Younes Kaboul brilliantly, before firing it in for Rooney to turn over the line. It was the moment United fans were waiting for, the goal drought was over. Rooney didn’t seem to know much about it as it hit is knee and then deflected off Pantilimon and into the back of the net. 2-0 and United were growing in confidence with each passing minute.

Anthony Martial

Anthony Martial was terrific even though he couldn’t add to his goal tally. He looked lively and pacey, showed his strength when he had his back towards goal. More skillful play from him put Memphis through one on one with Pantilimon. But a really poor finish denied United their third. Sunderland did have a couple of chances to get back into the game. A scramble from a corner allowed Toivonen to poke the ball towards goal, but there was never enough power to beat De Gea. Not much later a lovely ball by Lee Cattermole for Van Aanholt allowed him to break into the box however he was denied by the legs of David De Gea.

Bastian Schweinsteiger came on for Michael Carrick in the 68th minute to influence proceedings. Within 10 minutes, Van Gaal made his last two changes bringing on Jones for Blind and Young for Memphis.

“United United, Top of the League!” rang around the stadium as the home side were playing with a spring in their step now looking to add a third. Juan Mata’s effort from the edge of the area was brilliantly turned behind by Pantilimon. Ashley Young looked threatening since he came on and it was his ball that found Mata in the box who brilliantly finished for United’s third.

A comfortable 3-0 victory puts United top of the league. United players look happy and they seem to finally understand Louis Van Gaal’s philosophy. It will be hard work to stay top of the league however as they start a tough run of fixtures. For Sunderland, it was another afternoon to forget. They have a lot of work to do with only 2 points from 7 matches ensuring they are right at the bottom.