Had precious little to do until he was picking the ball out of his net from Larsson's strike. The Spaniard looked shaken by the Sunderland opener and became very nervy with his kicking and did not command his area with authority.
Dealt well with the majority of Sunderland's forward forays down his flank but struggled, like Evra, to provide the requisite overlapping runs needed for United to stretch the Black Cats.
Looked nervy in possession throughout and was caught napping for Sunderland's opening strike, as Wickham stole in to produce a cross for Larsson to finish. The nerves around Old Trafford permeated into his play.
Got caught in behind once too often by the speedy Johnson and did not offer enough support to the United widemen, who craved an option beyond them to work space for a cross. Not a good showing from the United stalwart.
The Serb could not deal with Borini's vivacious movement in the attacking third and stood off the Italian as a result, presenting him with more space. Failed to show any sort of leadership in sorting out a poor United backline.
The sole beacon of light on an otherwise poor United display, the Spaniard constantly looked to probe a resolute Black Cats backline but his passing was not always precise enough. The best of a bad bunch once more.
Wasteful in possession, slow in tracking midfield runners and unable to give United any forward penetration. It was not a good day for Carrick, who has epitomised United's malaise this season better than most.
Similarly to his midfield partner, the Scot was found to be too ponderous in possession of the ball and often ran into cul-de-sacs trying to find the ball to breach the Sunderland defence. Worked hard but lacked in quality.
Along with Nani, the United winger was comfortably one of the worst on show at Old Trafford. Got his feet in a tangle as he sought to find a cross on occasions and did not get the better of his marker enough.
A poor performance from the Portuguese, who switched wings in an attempt to enjoy some more space and freedom but his delivery and defensive contribution remained poor on both sides of the field.
The Mexican fought valiantly as the United spearhead but was undone by the lack of options for him once he had got a hold of possession in attacking areas. Was dominated in the challenge by Brown and O'Shea.
The Italian's main duty was to keep out a succession of aimless United crosses, which he did so with ease. Kept out Mata with a smart stop but was not forced into any difficult saves.
Led by example at the heart of his side's defence as he headed and cleared away cross after cross with the minimum of fuss. Looked inspired against his former employers.
Akin to his central defensive and ex-United team-mate, O'Shea was a key figure behind a resilient Sunderland rearguard display as he pressed Hernandez and fought off United's deliveries from out wide.
Very neat and tidy with his passing and gave Sunderland a wide outlet when play became congested in the middle of the field. Stuck to his defensive duties throughout and snuffed out the peripheral Young.
The Argentine was effective in combating Evra and Nani down the left and it wasn't until Januzaj emerged that he was posed with any true problems from a defensive perspective.
Tough and tenacious as ever, the midfielder worked tirelessly to help his side once they had found a breakthrough. Kept it simple in possession and closed down United's two-man axis of Carrick and Fletcher in midfield.
Took his goal with aplomb with a crisply-struck volley but did not pose much of a threat going forwards before or thereafter. Was often on the fringes of the game when Sunderland needed him most.
The winger gave Evra a number of problems in the opening period with his tricky wing play and persistent running in behind. Was sacrificed after the interval, however, with manager Poyet intent on preserving his side's lead.
Was instrumental in his side's win, marshalling Mata for the entirety of the contest and forced the Spaniard deep as he sought to retrieve possession for his side.
Worked so hard for his side at the apex of the Sunderland frontline, giving Vidic and Ferdinand a torrid time with his desire to going deep to get the ball and turn. Was also a nuisance for the defensive duo in the air and set up the winner.
Able to see a defensive side to the Italian as he battled in both directions to assist his full-back and gave United problems when he did break to offer support to Wickham.
Injected some much-needed verve and imagination to a stale United frontline but, like most of the widemen on show, his crossing was wayward and lacking in quality.
More able to get in behind than both Young and Nani but his team-mates failed to exploit that as their slow passing game meant his darts into space were largely futile.
R. van Persie
Treated to a messiah's welcome upon his return to first-team action but was unable to transform United's attacking fortunes as Brown and O'Shea teamed up to snuff out the Dutchman.
Brought on to sit alongside Cattermole as a defensive shield and ensure it was the visitors who took home the points and not United. Kept to his instructions by laying the ball off and remaining disciplined in the face of late United pressure.
Brought on midway through the second period to shore up the midfield numbers for Johnson and gave the visitors a creative edge they had sorely lacked on the counter.
Was introduced in a like-for-like swap for Wickham but did not replicate his fellow striker's endeavour in chasing down lost causes. Did provide glimpses of class, however, including some clever hold-up play and a cross from which Vergini struck the post.