Sunderland gave themselves a massive opportunity of remaining in the Premier League, courtesy of a first half Sebastian Larsson goal. Only a Norwich victory over Chelsea could halt the Black Cats march to an eighth consecutive season in England's top flight.
Sunderland remained unchanged. Naturally. To be fair to Manchester United, they were suffering as a result of losing Wayne Rooney through illness and injury. It certainly showed. Many good spells of possession in the Sunderland half ended meekly in the early stages. No real cutting edge from the home side. Plenty of crosses, no result. Funny that, since David Moyes was regularly criticised for this. Maybe the 'problems' lie deeper than the manager?
Anyway, the lads harried and pressed United with little effect until mid way through the half. Connor Wickham received the ball wide on the right hand side of the penalty area. He floated the ball into space, and the onrushing Seb Larsson sexily side footed Sunderland into the lead from 15 yards. Bliss.
Not a lot more happened up until the break, with Sunderland stifling the majority of attacks with ease. Wes Brown and John O'Shea, the former in particular, snuffed out any issues. The pair were phenomenal all afternoon. Sunderland took the lead into half time, cool as you like.
United started the second half brightly, forcing a flurry of corner kicks. Mannone flapped at a few and probably could have done a bit better at times, but the back four in front of him were superb. A number of crosses rained in, only for the lad's defence to head and boot everything away. It really was an outstanding effort from the back four. Alonso has returned to form recently, whilst the much maligned Santiago Vergini continued to excel at right back.
Sunderland made a few changes in the second half. Jozy Altidore and Emanuele Giaccherini made appearances and linked up well for Sunderland's best chance after the break. Borini scooped the ball into Altidore's path in the right channel. The American pulled the ball back to Giaccherini who did will to caress the ball towards goal, only to see his shot hit the base of the post.
It was another Italian's turn to strike the woodwork shortly afterwards. Liverpool loanee Fabio Borini got on the end of a lovely move and struck a left footed shot against the cross bar. It looked in all the way and he was so unfortunate not to cap his hard working performance with a goal.
However, the Sunderland side remained untroubled and recorded their third win in a row. A remarkable achievement from a side written off by many, including myself. Safety looks nailed on and this result caps what has been a truly bizarre season for the men in red and white.
Sunderland: Mannone, Vergini, O'Shea, Brown, Alonso, Larsson (Bridcutt 74'), Cattermole, Colback, Johnson (Giaccherini 58'), Wickham (Altidore 65'), Borini.
Goals: Larsson (26')
Manchester United: De Gea, Jones, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Nani (Januzaj 52'), Carrick, Fletcher, Young (Welbeck 67'), Mata (Van Persie 66'), Hernandez