It has been a few seasons since Manchester United have picked up three points away to Sunderland but if there was any manager who could help them with that, it’s the hapless David Moyes.
United scored goals in both halves in Sunday’s 3-0 win, a game that was more or less finished as soon as Sebastian Larsson was sent off for going in studs up with his foot over the ball on Ander Herrera. Some claimed there was controversy to the decision although it’s unlikely they would have thought that if Larsson had made proper contact with the Spaniard. It was dangerous and reckless.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic played his part in opening the scoring for United, by creating space for himself to unleash a powerful attempt. Any small hope Sunderland might have had of getting back in to the game ended when Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored a good solo goal within the first minute of the restart.
United totally dominated the second half but had to wait until the final minute for their third goal when Marcus Rashford fired his attempt low and hard in at the far post.
As well as the three goals, the travelling fans took great satisfaction in celebrating Sunderland’s impending relegation, after the Stadium of Light gleefully responded to Manchester City’s late title win in 2012.
Hopes of finishing in the top are still alive but United will have to replicate their away form at home if they are to do it.
United have been so short of goals that it was important for them to score a few here and edge their goal difference closer to the teams around them.
Ibrahimovic has scored the vast majority of United’s goals so it was good to see Mkhitaryan and Rashford get on the scoresheet as well.
Jose Mourinho will likely be frustrated that United didn’t score even more. A 3-0 scoreline is not a fair reflection of just how much they dominated the game. Yet again, they were not clinical enough in front of goal, although did well to beat Jordan Pickford, a goalkeeper who has been in such good form this season.
Still, it’s hard to find too much at fault with a team that wins 3-0, even if it should have been by more.
7 — Mourinho picked the right team to get a result, which left him with a few players rested for what he will likely regard the more important game against Anderlecht in the Europa League on Thursday.
The disappointment was to see Daley Blind brought off the bench in the second half when there were youth team players available. When you’re 2-0 up against the 10 men of a side that will be playing in the Championship next season, surely that is a safe time to play youth? Mourinho could argue he wanted to give Blind some playing time ahead of the busy schedule ahead.
GK Sergio Romero, 7 — A solid performance from United’s second choice goalkeeper. Sunderland weren’t too dangerous but he dealt with their chances well, particularly when making a great save to deny Victor Anichebe from a few yards out.
DF Matteo Darmian, 6 — The Italian wasn’t pushed much defensively but also didn’t offer an awful lot going forward, particularly in comparison to the pace that Antonio Valencia allows United to break with.
DF Eric Bailly, 6 — Allowed Anichebe to turn and get his shot away, which probably should have resulted in a goal. Otherwise, he was solid and dealt well with the limited Sunderland threat.
DF Marcos Rojo, 7 — An easy game for Rojo at the back, where he excelled in clearing the Sunderland crosses and intercepting their balls forward.
DF Luke Shaw, 7 — He picked up an early booking for sliding in late and was substituted with an injury in the second half, only to be greeted warmly by Mourinho. Delivered a great ball in to the box to set up Fellaini for what probably should have been a goal, as well as the ball in to Mkhitaryan for the second goal.
MF Ander Herrera, 7 — Had a busy afternoon, between helping United dominate possession through his passing and tackling, and suffering the foul that saw Sunderland go down to 10 men. His most vital contribution was when he spotted Ibrahimovic on the edge of the box in the lead up to the opening goal.
MF Marouane Fellaini, 7 — United supporters won’t want to see him with the captain’s armband on many more occasions but he put in a decent shift. He should have doubled United’s lead after a good ball in from Shaw early on but defensively he was sound. Won the ball back on plenty of occasions.
FW Jesse Lingard, 6 — After a tame early attempt, he went on a good run, beating a few players and forcing a good save from Pickford. He worked hard for just over an hour, before being replaced by Rashford, but didn’t have a huge say in the game.
FW Paul Pogba, 6 — Saw more of the ball than anyone else on the pitch but didn’t dominate in the way he should. Sunderland are poor opponents and he should have been driving everything for United. He had a great chance to score but fired over the bar. He redeemed himself somewhat with a perfectly weighted ball to Rashford in the lead up to the third goal.
FW Henrikh Mkhitaryan, 7 — After a quiet first half, Mkhitaryan started the second with a bang. He made a goal from nothing by beating a couple of players, before firing past Pickford. He was almost anonymous after his goal, with a few moments of skill sprinkled in, before being replaced by Anthony Martial.
FW Zlatan Ibrahimovic, 8 — With his back to goal and two players on him, the Swede did so well to get himself an extra yard and get an impossible to save shot away. He had the opportunity to score or set teammates up on a number of occasions after that but fluffed most of them, before claiming an assist for Rashford’s late goal. It was a typical performance from him, in that he was wasteful at times, but then popped up with a goal and an assist.
DF Daley Blind, 5 — Didn’t leave much of an impression on the game. He allowed Fabio Borini in behind him not long after coming on. But Sunderland posed so little threat, he wasn’t unduly troubled.
FW Marcus Rashford, 7 — After getting into good positions and running non-stop for the half an hour he was on the pitch, he took his chance well when it was presented to him to put United 3-0 up.
FW Anthony Martial, 5 — Had an opportunity to score as soon as he came on after breaking away from the defence but failing to lob the goalkeeper.
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