Sunderland vs. Manchester United Score, Grades and Analysis

Karl MatchettFeatured ColumnistOctober 5, 2013

Despite a terrible start to the game, Manchester United got back to winning ways with a 2-1 victory over Sunderland at t on Saturday.

Sunderland got off to a fast start. Craig Gardner cracked home the opening goal after just five minutes, taking advantage of shoddy United defending, notably from Nemanja Vidic.

SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 05:  Craig Gardner of Sunderland celebrates scoring the opening goal with team mates during the Barclays Premier League match between Sunderland and Manchester United at the Stadium of Light on October 5, 2013 in Sunderland,
Michael Regan/Getty Images

It could have been even better for Sunderland. A couple of minutes later the same player got in behind United's defence after Phil Jones lost the ball. But Gardner delayed either shooting or crossing with a three-on-one advantage. He eventually lost the ball.

United seemed stunned by Sunderland's fast start and were incapable of troubling the Black Cats' back line early on. Long-range efforts from Nani and Adnan Januzaj were the best they could muster in the opening 20 minutes.

The remainder of the half's best chances fell to the home side, with David De Gea making a wonderful save from Emanuele Giaccherini's header and Adam Johnson seeing his shot blocked. His eventual pull-back was smashed over by Giaccherini as well.

After the break Sunderland still looked positive, but 10 minutes into the half United were level.

Januzaj, who was booked for a dive in the penalty area just a few minutes prior, side-footed a fine, controlled finish past Keiren Westwood to make it 1-1 after Patrice Evra's cross from the left flank.

Robin van Persie went close with a shot minutes later.

Next, the Belgian youngster drew blood once again. It was a terrific volley this time, fired into the far corner of the net to beat Westwood.

United looked as if they would stroll to victory with the home team creating little, but Sunderland woke up for the last 10 minutes and threw plenty at United.

Instead, it was van Persie who had the best late chance, one-on-one with the keeper, only to put his shot wide as United saw out the 2-1 win.


Key Player Grades

Adnan Januzaj: B+

SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 05: Adnan Januzaj of Manchester United is congratulated on scoring the second goal by Patrice Evra and Tom Cleverley during the Barclays Premier League match between Sunderland and Manchester United at Stadium of Light on Oct
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

The young Belgian was the player of the first half, waltzing through tackles with ease and trying his luck from range, one of the few positive United players on the pitch. His two goals were extremely well-taken, and his all-round display was the best attacking threat United had. A yellow card for a blatant dive was the only stain on his performance.  

Robin van Persie: C

Probably the quietest performance by the Dutch striker in a United shirt. His service was lacking in the first half, but van Persie didn't find his usual space on the ball outside the penalty area and was a little off the pace at times. His late miss was symptomatic of his below-par performance.

Emanuele Giaccherini: B

SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 05: Emanuele Giaccherini of Sunderland takes a free kick defended by (L-R) Rafael, Robin van Persie, Michael Carrick and Nani of Manchester United during the Barclays Premier League match between Sunderland and Manchester Uni
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

It was a really good performance at both ends of the pitch in the first half; all he lacked was a goal after some industrious work down the right side in defending his own goal and getting forward in attack superbly. He should have scored with his header (shown above), and he might have done better with a shot late in the half too.


What's Next?

Following the win, United now have 10 points from seven games and move into the top half of the table. Sunderland remain rock bottom with a single point from seven games. After the international break United play at home against Southampton, while Sunderland travel to Swansea City in search of their first win of the season.