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Manchester United v Sunderland - Premier League

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On This Day (28th February 2015): Rooney double & wrong man sent off on a bad day for Sunderland

Referee Roger East mistook Wes Brown for John O’Shea and sent the wrong man off as Sunderland fell to defeat at Old Trafford on this day eight years ago.

Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

In a game where Sunderland displayed very little attacking threat, the most memorable event involving a Sunderland player was Wes Brown being mistaken for John O’Shea by referee Roger East in one of the worst cases of mistaken identity since Guy Goma turned up live on BBC News.

Struggling to deal with United striker Rademel Falcao, O’Shea got a little too close for comfort with the Colombian as he succumbed to bear-hugging him to the deck - with Brown watching on in close proximity.

Bizarrely, after interacting with his fourth official - and despite the protestations of O’Shea and Brown - East stuck sending the former United and England defender off to cheers from the Stretford End.

Manchester United v Sunderland - Premier League Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Truthfully, the game was a turgid affair. Sunderland were struggling at the time and Gus Poyet had settled for a draw before the game even started. The team were set up in a 4-5-1 formation with Connor Wickham playing wide right, leaving Jermain Defoe isolated up front on his own.

If we were going to get anything from this game, we had to take our chances - which all appeared to arrive in the first twenty minutes.

Wickham - who had failed to rediscover his late season form of the previous season - was set free on the break and shot from just outside the box which had David De Gea scrambling to make a save. Minutes later, Defoe had a decent headed chance which sailed over the bar harmlessly.

Based on the early proceedings, it appeared that Sunderland were going to take the game to Louis Van Gaal’s United, but alas, this was as good as it got for the away side.

From about the twentieth minute on, United dominated the possession without doing much damage. The majority of their good play came through Ashley Young, who gave our veteran French full back Anthony Reveillere a torrid time.

In contrast, United’s big money signing Angel Di Maria looked like a fan who won the opportunity to play a game for his boyhood team, completely out of his depth and unable to keep up with the pace. He was replaced by future Sunderland player Adnan Januzaj at half time.

The young Belgian had an immediate impact, winning two corners at the start of the second half before lashing a volley wide on the hour mark when Reveillere half-cleared Rooney’s free-kick.

Sunderland were well set up and we were frustrating the home side. As cries of ‘attack, attack, attack’ from the Stretford End became louder and louder, one would be forgiven for sensing that a shock result wa on the cards.

This all changed just after the hour mark when O’Shea somewhat needlessly dragged Falcao to the ground after a good ball was played into the striker. Rooney neatly finished the penalty into the far left corner to put United into the ascendancy.

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Manchester United v Sunderland - Old Trafford

It was a struggle for us from that point onwards. Poyet brought on Steven Fletcher and Danny Graham in an attempt to chase the point, but it was United - and Rooney again - who finished the game off.

After Costel Pantilimon saved Januzaj’s shot, Rooney nodded in a header from close range to finish off the credible Sunderland challenge.

Unfortunately, things become more and more desperate as this defeat left Sunderland closer to the drop zone, and Gus Poyet closer to the exit door at the Stadium of Light.

Man Utd: De Gea, Evans, Rojo, Smalling, Valencia, Blind, Herrera, Rooney, Young, Di Maria, Falcao. Subs: Fellaini, Januzaj, Mata.

Sunderland: Pantilimon, Brown, O’Shea, Reveillere, Van Aanholt, Cattermole, Gomez, Johnson, Larsson, Wickham, Defoe Subs: Vergini, Fletcher, Graham.


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