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Manchester United 3-1 Sunderland: Borini’s Late Stunner Merely A Consolation

Sunderland were beaten 3-1 by Manchester United at Old Trafford this afternoon but the scoreline wasn’t perhaps reflective of the Mackems’ battling performance.

Manchester United v Sunderland - Premier League Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Zlatan Ibrahimovic inspired an improving Manchester United side to a comfortable 3-1 victory over David Moyes' Sunderland.

Moyes' first competitive return to Old Trafford since his sacking ended in disappointing defeat as ultimately the gulf in quality showed between the two teams.

A Daley Blind strike gave the Red Devils a half time advantage, with United's Swedish talisman adding the crucial second ten minutes from time to seal the points.

Both fans were treated to spectacular late volley's, first Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored a diving back-heel flick beyond Jordan Pickford, then Fabio Borini let fly from 25 yards leaving David De Gea frozen as the ball dipped into bottom corner.

Sunderland stay in the drop zone after being out-classed in Manchester while Manchester United sit sixth just three points off Champions League qualification.

Manchester United edged a tight first half in which Sunderland produced a largely impressive all round display.

The home side were mainly restricted to long range efforts and half chances with Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard guilty of firing over from 20 yards.

Surprisingly the Black Cats offered a threat going forward, first Patrick Van Aanholt's bending free kick needed parrying out of danger by David De Gea.

United nearly caught Sunderland out when a long clearance nearly found Juan Mata goal-side of Lamina Kone. The Spaniard was bundled off the ball by the centre half with referee Martin Atkinson judging the challenge to be a fair shoulder to shoulder clash.

A rare spell where David Moyes' men were found guilty of dropping too deep, was nearly punished by Pogba. The £89 million man latched onto a loose ball and nearly bent into the far corner clipping the outside of the post.

Then came Sunderland's golden chance. Jermain Defoe hung up an outstanding teasing cross, underneath the ball Daley Blind could only deflect the ball into the path of Victor Anichebe who scuffed his shot onto De Gea's trailing foot from point blank range. Running onto the rebound Fabio Borini wildly scuffed away from goal inside the Red Devil's area wasting an outstanding opportunity.

Pogba continued to threaten Jordan Pickford's goal volleying over from the edge of the Wearsider's area. He laced at goal after Papy Djilobodji half cleared a Blind cross and Sebastian Larsson slipped defending the edge of his area.

The opening goal was one of pure quality, Zlatan Ibrahimovic outlined his excellent ability to play-make holding off several challenges in the Sunderland area before laying off to Blind. The Dutch international drove low and hard across Pickford to find the bottom corner.

After scoring United settled and really upped the pressure on Sunderland who held on to only be a goal down at half time. Pogba turned on the volley ending a long spell of incisive Manchester passing, but shot harmlessly at Pickford.

Juan Mata tested Pickford from 20 yards, the England under 21 was able to divert the Spaniards free kick away from danger diving down to his right just before the half time whistle.

Manchester United approached the second half keen to kill off the game early. Pogba was guilty of heading over unmarked from an Ander Herrera cross five minutes into the second stanza.

As Sunderland understandably committed more men forward into attack more space opened up for United, with Ibrahimovic being the main beneficiary. The 35 year old got in behind Sunderland twice early in the second period. He fired over in space and was denied by Djilobodji's last ditch sliding tackle, wasting two good openings in quick succession.

Substitute Mkhitaryan almost made an immediate impact curling wide from the edge of the area cutting inside after being left one on one with Kone. The efforts of Jason Denayer and Pickford also kept sunderland in it midway through the second half. Pickford intercepting a Pogba cut back, before Denayer blocked a Mata shot from close range.

Pickford's weekly moment of brilliance came soon after Mkhitaryan slid Ibrahimovic in with a perfectly timed through ball forcing the 22 year old to deny the marksman with his feet.

The game mirrored Sunderland's recent outing against Chelsea. The more the Black Cats pressed for an equaliser, the more their more talented opponents punished them and created good openings.

Eventually United doubled their lead, Ibrahimovic patiently passed into the corner, after seeing Pickford commit to his right. Unfortunately from a Sunderland perspective the chance was a consequence of awful play. Didier Ndong, who ironically had looked more assured in possession saw his pass intercepted as he exchanged suicidal square balls with Kone. Once Pogba slipped a perfectly weighted ball to Ibrahimovic the game was over.

Mkhitaryan added a sensational third, volleying in a Ibrahimovic cross with an improvised backheel as he was falling forward. The Armenian was a yard offside as he flicked in at the near post.

Borini's wonder goal came from no where. He chested before letting fly in the dying minutes with Sunderland's one real shot of anger in the second half, in what proved only to be merely a memorable consolation goal.

Moyes's men couldn't have played much better for 80 minutes but were ultimately out-classed by an expensively assembled side that look capable of pushing for Champions League football at least.