United started on the front foot as expected with Rooney heading wide from a corner, but Sunderland had a golden chance to take the lead on 5 minutes. Wickham drove at the stranded defender Evans but rather than playing Defoe in on goal he chose to go alone but the Keeper saved well low to his left. Moments later Defoe received the ball on the edge of the United box but he saw his curling effort go over.
The frantic pace of the game continued, this time it was United with an opening on 11 minutes. A whipped in ball from Di Maria caused havoc in the Sunderland defence with the ball falling to Young who flashed his shot inches over. At the other end Defoe was played through with one defender to beat but his weak shot was easily saved.
Sunderland had a major let off on 25 minutes. Valencia’s cross found Young at the back post; whose driven shot was blocked on the line by O’Shea sending the ball onto the bar.
United continued to probe the Sunderland defence without really forcing Pantilimon into making any meaningful saves as Sunderland saw out the first half.
The second half was a drab affair until Manchester United broke the deadlock after being awarded a penalty on 63 minutes. O’Shea hauled down Falcao just as the forward was about to shoot and Rooney was successful from the resulting penalty. The referee subsequently sent off Brown instead of O’Shea which would beg the question if the referee really saw the challenge how could he possibly send off the wrong player?
United continued to probe against the ten men but the Sunderland defence dealt with every threat, mostly limiting United to long range efforts from Blind and Januzaj.
United eventually made sure of the points on 84 minutes with another Rooney goal after the striker headed in after Pantilimon had parried a shot.
A valiant effort from Sunderland, they were well in the game up until the red card and penalty and after that there was little hope of a comeback.
Manchester United (3-5-2): De Gea, Valencia, Smalling, Evans, Rojo, Young, Blind, Herrera, Di Maria (Januzaj 46’), Rooney (Mata 86’), Falcao (Fellaini 67’).
Subs: Lindegaard, McNair, Carrick, Fellaini, Mata, Januzaj, Wilson.
Goals: Rooney (65’, 84’)
Sunderland (4-3-3): Pantilimon, Van Aanholt, O'Shea (c), Brown, Reveillere, Cattermole, Larsson, Gomez, Johnson (Fletcher 81’), Wickham (Vergini 66’), Defoe (Graham 66’).
Subs: Mannone, Coates, Vergini, Bridcutt, Watmore, Fletcher, Graham.
Sent Off: Brown (64’)