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December 26, 2010
• Old Trafford, Manchester
Referee: P. Dowd
• Attendance: 75269
Sir Alex Ferguson's side complete a fourth Premier League victory in succession and retain their position at the top of the table. United may not have been at their most impressive best for the majority of the game, but did enough in short spells to wrap up the points. Steve Bruce will probably be disappointed with the performance of his Sunderland side as, despite their slight recovery from a poor start to the game, they did little to threaten Van der Sar in the United goal.
FULL-TIME: Manchester United 2-0 Sunderland
90' + 2'
Little happening in stoppage time as Sunderland look resigned to their fate.
There will be three minutes of added time at Old Trafford and it looks as though United will continue at the top of the Premier League tonight.
What a waste. Cook finds Zenden with a great ball before the Dutchman finds Elmohamady in space on the right. However, the Egyptian slices his shot high and wide.
United seem to be content to sit back and keep things tight defensively as they cruise to another three points, which would be their fourth consecutive Premier League victory.
Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez
This game is summed up by the fact that Sunderland have only just recorded their first shot on-target through Zenden's long-range strike. Meanwhile, Berbatov comes off for Hernandez whilst youngster Cook replaces Malbranque for Sunderland.
Gyan stretches but can't control a header from Bardsley's cross as United clear. Still time for Sunderland to salvage this game, though it would take something special.
Yellow Card David Meyler
Tempers flare a bit as Meyler is booked for a challenge on Rafael that has left United (and Ferdinand in particular) very upset. Replays show that the Sunderland player did appear to go in quite high with his studs showing on the Brazilian.
Could have been his hat-trick. Gibson's shot deflects into the path of Berbatov, who swivels well and hits a fierce half-volley that stings the palms of Gordon. Just two feet either side would have given the Bulgarian another goal.
Bent comes off for Meyler as Sunderland make their first change of the game. Just moments before, the striker had put an over-head kick way over the bar from a corner.
Gibson could have scored with what would probably have been his first touch of the match, but his strike from outside the area is straight at Gordon.
Giggs is replaced by Macheda as Gibson comes on for Anderson. Sir Alex seems to want to give the departing pair a rest with a glut of games coming up.
That must be one for the dubious goals panel to adjudicate on as replays are unclear as to whether Berbatov's original shot was on-target. Meanwhile, United have increased the tempo of the match as they look for a third.
Own Goal Anton Ferdinand
Assist Dimitar Berbatov
GOAL FOR UNITED!!!!!!! Is that the game wrapped up? Berbatov gets his second of the match as his shot with the outside of his boot takes a sizeable deflection off Anton Ferdinand to fly past Gordon.
A great touch from Zenden releases Henderson down the right hand side, but his cross is well cut out by Vidic.
Fantastic play from United as some intricate passing and then neat footwork by Rooney finds Anderson with space to shoot from just inside the penalty area. However, the Brazilian's strike is well blocked by the Sunderland defence.
Steve Bruce must have dished out some harsh words at half-time. His Sunderland side are showing much more energy following the break.
A very bright start to the second period from Sunderland as Malbranque's shot is deflected into the path of Gyan inside the area. However, the Ghanaian blasts his shot high over the bar from a tight angle.
The action is back underway at Old Trafford...
Manchester United 1-0 Sunderland: Sir Alex Ferguson's side have just the one goal to show for all their early dominance and they will probably be disappointed with that. Especially as the visitors showed signs of finally settling into the game just before the break.
From that corner though, Rooney counter-attacks with the ball at his feet for almost the entire length of the pitch. However, he eventually over-hits the ball ahead of him and Gordon can pounce gratefully.
Just before the break, Sunderland enjoy their best spell of possession in the United half.. However, Evra just beats Onuhoa to a corner.
Well, there's almost an answer. Anderson twists his body to meet a half-volley, but his shot bounces just wide of Gordon's right-hand post.
Will Sir Alex Ferguson be left to rue the fact that his side failed to take full advantage of their early dominance, or can United get themselves back into their top attacking gear?
It's all a little quiet at Old Trafford now as Sunderland try to recover from that early United storm, and the visitors are gradually seeing more of the ball.
United are still absolutely dominating possession here, but Sunderland seem to have tightened things up a little at the back. As a result, the ball has mainly been confined to the middle of the pitch in the last few minutes.
Just to remind you that this is the same Sunderland side that went to Stamford Bridge and beat Chelsea 3-0. They have produced a mere shadow of that perfromance at Old Trafford today.
Rafael claims for a penalty after appearing to be hauled down just inside the area by Bardsley. However, Phil Dowd waves play on.
Phil Bardsley has picked up a retrospective booking from referee Phil Dowd for an earlier challenge on Berbatov.
Yellow Card Phil Bardsley
Great save from Gordon to deny Giggs on the half-volley from inside the area. The Welshman has been at the heart of everything so far.
Surely a second goal is just round the corner? Giggs plays it off to Berbatov whose fierce shot hits the side-netting.
The way Sir Alex Ferguson's side have started, you wouldn't bet against another 7-1 thrashing similar to one they dished out to Blackburn Rovers recently.
The frame of the goal comes to Sunderland's rescue again!! This time Anderson is the United player frustrated by the woodwork, as his curling left-foot shot from just outside the area hits the crossbar.
You'd be worried if you were Steve Bruce this afternoon. His side are granting far too much space to Rooney, Berbatov and Giggs who all look in a determined mood today.
United have started brilliantly. Just moments after Rooney's chipped effort goes agonisingly wide of Gordon's right hand post, Berbatov's drive hits the foot of the post from inside the area.
That's Berbatov's 12th Premier League goal of the season. Is he now starting to finally justify that huge transfer fee?
Assist Wayne Rooney
Goal Dimitar Berbatov
GOAL FOR UNITED!!!! Stunning start for the home side. Giggs breaks through the centre of the pitch before laying the ball off to Rooney on the right side of the penalty area. The England striker then plays a brilliantly chipped cross to Berbatov on the far post and the Bulgarian makes no mistake with a firm header past Gordon in the Sunderland goal.
Park is nearly able to play in Rooney there as he crosses from the right hand side, but Sunderland clear comfortably in the end.
Sunderland get us underway in their white and maroon away strip, and will be playing from right to left in the first half. Manchester United are in their traditional red home shirts and will be defending the Stretford End in the first 45.
The teams are out on the pitch completing their pre-game handshakes, kick-off is imminent....
However, expect the Black Cats to put in a disciplined defensive performance today. Steve Bruce's side have kept clean sheets in nine of their 18 Premier League games this season, more than any other team.
The omens are not good for the visitors today. Sunderland have not won at Old Trafford since May 1968, whilst their last two trips to the red half of Manchester have seen them suffer late on in the game. Two years ago Nemanja Vidic's injury-time goal gave the Red Devils a 1-0 win and last term, Anton Ferdinand's 94th minute own goal ensured a 2-2 draw between the teams.
Sunderland subs: Mignolet, Angeleri, Da Silva, Meyler, Cook, Adams, Reed.
Manchester United subs: Kuszczak, Neville, Smalling, Hernandez, Macheda, Gibson, Bebe
And the Sunderland team is: Gordon; Onuoha, Ferdinand, Elmohamady, Bardsley; Malbranque, Henderson, Riveros, Zenden; Bent, Gyan
Here's the United line-up: Van der Sar; Rafael Da Silva, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra; Park, Carrick, Anderson, Giggs; Rooney, Berbatov.
Hello and welcome to Goal.com's live commentary of today's Premier League clash between Manchester United and Sunderland at Old Trafford. Team news coming up next....
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