SUNDERLAND 0, MANCHESTER UNITED 1
Manchester United continued their relentless march towards a record 20th league title with a comfortable victory at Sunderland thanks to an own goal by Titus Bramble.
Sir Alex Ferguson stated that United would “never forget” the taunts from certain sections of Sunderland fans last May as they beat Sunderland at The Stadium of Light only to hear about Sergio Aguero’s injury time heroics for Manchester City which dramatically snatched the title from their hands.
Ten months on from that day, and with an FA Cup quarter-final replay against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge looming on Monday, Ferguson selected a side without Wayne Rooney and Rio Ferdinand but with the intent of ensuring the title was safe.
Ferguson said: “It was a battle in the second half and you have to give Sunderland credit as they had a real go at us.
“We picked up two or three injuries and our goalkeeper was hurt so it was a real battling performance.
“We’ve got to win four games out of the last eight and it’s important we focus on the Manchester City game which is next at home.”
The Black Cats resisted United pressure until Phil Bardsley allowed Robin Van Persie to switch the ball to his lethal left foot and his subsequent shot took a deflection off the luckless Bramble’s knee and wrong-footed Simon Mignolet in Sunderland’s goal in the 27th minute.
Despite a trio of World Cup goals for Holland during the international break, Van Persie’s goal drought for United continued for an eighth game and their injury list was further extended by Rafael’s first half substitution while captain Nemanja Vidic took a knock in the first few minutes and was left bloodied after a collision with his own goalkeeper David De Gea later in the game.
United never really got out of second gear against Sunderland but once again they will take three points away from home. Regardless of the manner in which United win their games in the crucial run-in, Ferguson will be delighted to know that a further ten points from the last eight games will see the title return to Old Trafford.