Barclays Premier League
Sunderland AFC vs. Manchester United
Venue: Stadium Of Light
Date: Saturday, 13 February 2016
Kick-off: 12:45 GMT
Manchester United suffered another miserable day to forget, this time at the hands of Sunderland, losing at the Stadium of Light for the first time in the Premier League.
A 2-1 scoreline was enough to settle the tie, with January signings Wahbi Khazri and Lamine Kone finding the net for the Black Cats, although the second goal could well be credited as a David De Gea own goal.
Anthony Martial did have United back on level terms shortly before half-time, but it wasn’t enough as a top four finish seems well and truly over now.
It was a first half of two halves as Sunderland’s early dominance saw them take an early lead after Khazri’s free-kick crept its way through the melee of bodies inside the penalty area and in via the post.
Patrick van Aanholt, who was fouled by Matteo Darmian for the free-kick, fired wide, as Lee Cattermole’s dragged shot from Jermain Defoe’s lobbed pass also fell wide.
The lively Khazri curled an attempt over before United grew into the game.
Wayne Rooney’s in-field pass was struck first time by Juan Mata, but Vito Mannone was on hand to catch the effort with ease.
DeAndre Yedlin was booked for diving for the hosts, before the equaliser came about moments later.
Martial’s low cross was cleared only as far as Mata, whose low shot was saved by the right hand of Mannone, but the Frenchman Martial reacted to dink the ball left-footed over the goalkeeper and in.
Yann M’Vila’s shot fell wide as half-time arrived with the scores level.
An open and stretched second half saw Rooney arrow a shot wide with Daley Blind blocking from Defoe at the other end.
De Gea was forced to deny Dame N’Doye’s low strike with his right boot, with Kone’s acrobatic attempt from the resulting corner too high to trouble.
Khazri had a free-kick held as Mata’s shot from substitute Memphis’ pull back was blocked by Jack Rodwell.
A fine save denied Kone once more, as Van Aanholt fired wide after Michael Carrick’s headed clearance from the corner.
Mata and Memphis saw tame shots held before the winning goal came with less than 10 minutes remaining.
Khazri’s corner was met by Kone, whose header was stopped on the line by Martial, but the ball hit the falling De Gea to cross the line.
Memphis had a shot palmed away before former United stalwart John O’Shea blocked another Memphis attempt, with Van Aanholt hitting the side netting the final action of the game.
This was poor from United yet to put it in context, it was far from their worst display of the season.
More unwanted records were broken with this defeat, a first league loss in this stadium against a side that can only be surpassed by Aston Villa in terms of lowest number of home wins this season.
False interpretations emerged from the last three performances, and this result brings a sense of reality in terms of where the club is right now.
Up next is a Europa League outing to Denmark to take on FC Midtjylland on Thursday night, with a 6pm kick-off time commencing proceedings over in Scandinavia.
Manchester United: De Gea; Darmian (Love 38), Smalling, Blind, Borthwick-Jackson; Schneiderlin (Keane 86), Carrick; Lingard (Memphis 62), Mata, Martial; Rooney.
Subs: Romero, Love, Weir, Herrera, Pereira, Memphis, Keane.
Manager: Louis van Gaal
Sunderland: Mannone; Yedlin, O’Shea, Kone, van Aanholt; Kirchoff (Rodwell 15); N’Doye, Cattermole (Toivonen 85), M’Vila, Khazri; Defoe (Borini 71).
Subs: Pickford, Brown, Rodwell, Borini, Matthews, Toivonen, Honeyman.
Manager: Sam Allardyce