Manchester United 0-1 Sunderland
Sebastian Larsson scored the only goal of the game to put a spoke in the Ryan Giggs bandwagon at Manchester United and condemn Cardiff City and Fulham to the Championship.
The Black Cats continued their recent excellent run of wins courtesy of their midfielder's 30th-minute strike, which further propelled Gus Poyet's team away from the drop zone.
United had their chances during the game but could not turn their dominance of possession into an equaliser.
Giggs restored Juan Mata to the starting line-up, while striker Robin van Persie was named among the substitutes. Poyet, meanwhile, named the same team for the fourth consecutive Premier League match.
United started well with some good possession keeping the Black Cats penned in their own half.
Mata tried his luck from 20 yards in the ninth minute, but his effort flew well wide of Vito Mannone's post. United were looking dangerous down the right, and Ashley Young was unfortunate not to connect with a Phil Jones cross in the 12th minute.
John O'Shea almost gifted his former club the lead in the 15th minute when he miscued his clearance from a Michael Carrick cross, but his slice drifted wide. However, against the run of play, Sunderland took the lead on the half-hour mark when Larsson side-footed home from Connor Wickham's cross, although the United defence were guilty of standing still.
United returned to the fore after going behind, but they could not turn their dominance of the ball into an equaliser against a resilient Sunderland.
Three minutes before the break, Adam Johnson spurned a great chance to add a second when Nemanja Vidic easily read his movement as he headed toward goal.
As the first half came to an end, Mata forced Mannone into a great save with his drive after good work from Nani and Javier Hernandez.
Six minutes after the break, Sunderland were grateful to Wes Brown, who saw the opportunity created by Patrice Evra's ball into the area. He blocked Hernandez's effort with a vital interception.
Giggs replaced the ineffective Nani with Adnan Januzaj in the 52nd minute, and the switch gave United a fresh impetus, but the Black Cats defence remained resolute.
A 62nd-minute goalmouth scramble should have seen United equalise, but neither Jones nor Vidic could convert inside the Sunderland area. The moment United fans had been waiting for came in the 67th minute with Van Persie entering the fray alongside Danny Welbeck.
But United almost found themselves two goals down in the 72nd minute when Emanuele Giaccherini struck David De Gea's post with a tremendous drive, before Jack Colback hit the side-netting with the rebound.
Giaccherini turned provider in the 84th minute when he slid a great ball through to Fabio Borini, who struck the bar with a curling effort.
But United had no response, and Sunderland claimed the three points to push themselves further clear of the relegation zone.
Selected player ratings
Rio Ferdinand: B
The Manchester United veteran defender was caught napping for Larsson's opening goal.
Lee Cattermole: A-
If Sunderland do survive the drop, the combative presence of the midfielder will have played a significant role. Another solid display for the Black Cats.
Ashley Young: A
Worked hard on the flank during the first period with Nani out of form for much of the game. A mature performance from the former Aston Villa man.
Manchester United play host to Hull City and former defender Steve Bruce in the Premier League on Tuesday.
Sunderland face another vital match in their battle to survive in the top flight when West Brom visit the Stadium of Light on the same night.