An out of sorts United scrapped their way to a narrow 1-0 win over Sunderland this afternoon.
Team News – With Sir Alex Ferguson celebrating twenty-five years in charge tomorrow, three things stuck out with regards to the starting eleven he`d selected for this fixture. Rooney`s role in midfield continued, Ferdinand and Vidic were restored to the centre of the defence and Lindegaard was given the nod between the sticks instead of De Gea.
United – Lindegaard, Evra, Ferdinand, Vidic, Jones, Park, Nani, Fletcher, Rooney, Hernandez, Welbeck
Subs – De Gea, Evans, Fabio, Carrick, Valencia, Berbatov, Diouf
First Half – With Old Trafford paying homage to Sir Alex Ferguson, the proceedings took on a sour note very early on when the Sunderland striker, Wickham, twisted his leg awkwardly and was carried away on a stretcher.
The first chance of the game fell to Hernandez but his shot, from a Nani ball in, wasn`t good enough to trouble Westwood in the Sunderland goal.
For some strange reason, United were not their normal vibrant selves and Sunderland were frustrating them by defending well. Whilst United had the majority of possession our visitors created three half chances. The first saw Bendtner fail to get enough purchase on an effort before Larsson fired into the side-netting. Bendtner, with his second chance, then forced a fine save out of Lindegaard.
The pattern of play continued, United dominating possession but Sunderland coping remarkably well. As we entered the last quarter of an hour of the half, Westwood comfortably saved a long range effort from Rooney.
Hernandez tumbled over in the area but a penalty shout was always going to be a little hopeful but just as you thought it`d be 0-0 at half time, United went ahead.
Nani slung over a corner and Welbeck`s headed flick hit Wes Brown and beat Westwood, thanks Wes!
United 1 Sunderland 0 (Brown og – 45 mins)
Half Time – United 1 Sunderland 0
Second Half – If the goal was intended to be the signal for an improved second half performance from United then somebody didn`t tell the players.
The opening exchanges mirrored those of the poor first half. Hernandez tried to inject something into the game but his header was cleared off the line before confusion reigned as the referee, Lee Mason, awarded Sunderland a penalty.
Thankfully, the referee`s assistant over-ruled Lee Mason having seen the hand of Ji Dong Won touch the ball rather than that of Vidic. The incident seemed to revitalise United and the lead should have been doubled.
Westwood produced a double stop, first to stop a close range shot form Rooney and then to produce a fine save from Evra.
But, leading 1-0 was always going to be dangerous and Sunderland could have equalised but Bendtner just failed to get a touch on Larsson`s decent cross.
A win, three points but not the standard of performance we`re accustomed to.
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