Man Utd needed Ibrahimovic to break Sunderland - Mourinho

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The striker fired his side into the lead with a strike from distance and set up Marcus Rashford for their third, sparking praise from his manager

Zlatan Ibrahimovic was Manchester United's inspiration as they swept aside 10-man Sunderland at the Stadium of Light, manager Jose Mourinho said.

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Ibrahimovic opened the scoring with his 28th goal of the season by arrowing home a brilliant strike and the Swede later set up Marcus Rashford to cap a 3-0 Premier League victory.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan also on target early in the second half as United extended their unbeaten run to 21 games in the top flight.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic Manchester United celebrate

Mourinho felt the magic provided by Ibrahimovic - who has hit nine goals in his last eight Premier League appearances away from home - helped his side get on course for a good result before Sebastian Larsson's red card made Sunderland's task even tougher.

"It was open at 0-0," Mourinho told Sky Sports. "We were in control without danger. 

"We were playing quite compact and solid. You need these players to break it. Every team has a couple of them. Zlatan did that. 

"We felt the game was in our pocket. In this beautiful weather the game was played at a more slow intensity."

Mourinho felt it was important for United to collect all three points after the Premier League's top four all won on Saturday, admitting that a first-half goal was vital in giving them control against their "sad" opposition.

Ibrahimovic: I feel like Benjamin Button

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"The result was good," Mourinho said. "We resisted the results of yesterday when Manchester City and Liverpool won, they left us in a position of 'yes' or 'no'. It was 'yes'. 

"We got three points and it was a solid display. It was against a team that is sad, it's normal. Against a team that is sad, if you score before then it's difficult for them to react.

"You could feel the negative feeling around the team. That is felt with a team close to relegation."

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