Manchester United’s great day started before they had even kicked off.
After going 1-0 up at White Hart Lane, Manchester City then lost 4-1 to an insurgent Tottenham Hotspur, who saw Harry Kane get his first goal of the season.
Manchester United kicked off against bottom of the league at 3 o’clock knowing, that a win would put them top of the Barclays Premier League.
The first half was a fairly tame affair; set pieces seemed to be the only real goal scoring opportunities for either side.
On the 25 minute mark, Anthony Martial managed to produce a half chance. The Frenchman found himself in space out side of the box, he then released a rocket of a shot which the Sunderland keeper, Costel Pantilimon, had to parry onto the woodwork.
Manchester United’s full backs, Antonio Valencia and Matteo Darmian got forward well, ever besting their opposite numbers, but their attacks would come to nothing.
Just past the half hour mark, Lee Cattermole put in one of his trademark unsavoury tackles on 19 year old Anthony Martial. The striker went down clutching his knee, requiring the physio to look him over and bring out the magic sponge. The youngster was soon back on his feet, and back in the game.
Overall, Manchester United dominated Sunderland in the first half, leaving them very little chance to play.
Just as the referee was about to blow the whistle for the end of the half, Daley Blind floats a perfect ball over to Juan Mata, from midfield. The Spaniard catches it in front of the right post and flings the ball across the box to Memphis Depay. Billy Jones comes flying in to stop the ball but, Memphis was too quick for him. The Dutchman finishes the move by throwing his body at the ball for the tap in, to score his first Premier League goal of the season.
Manchester United 1-0 Sunderland
The goal capped off a less than inspiring half of Red Devils football and definitely gave the Reds the break through that they needed.
Second half kicks off, and within the first couple of minutes, Manchester United score again.
This goal was all about the power play from Anthony Martial. The record teenage signing flew past two aggressors on the right side of the box, and then smashed a ball at the front post. Wayne Rooney flung his body towards the lightning cross and managed to get his knee on the ball to deflect it into the back of the net.
Wayne Rooney gets his first Premier League goal of the season.
Manchester United 2-0 Sunderland
Sunderland’s Steven Fletcher came on for Adam Johnson at half time, to add more presence in the attacking area, and Chris Smalling didn’t give him a single scrap to work with. Any ball crossed in, Smalling was first to it. If he ever received the ball to his feet, he had no where to go.
Manchester United continued to dominate, with Juan Mata playing particularly well, linking play and forcing attacks very well. In the 78th minute, the Spaniard fashioned a superb shot that forced another great save from Pantilimon.
The Sunderland keeper had a harsh day, he made many good saves to limit the score line and on each of the goals, his defence really let him down. Even a 6’8’’ keeper can’t stop everything.
Manchester United played with dominance and professionalism to see out the game with a win and a clean sheet.
Then, in the first minute of added on time, Ashley Young surged up the left side of the pitch, came into the box and flicked a cross over to Juan Mata. Mata then killed the ball with a great first touch, and then smashed the ball into the roof of the net. Game over.
Manchester United 3-0 Sunderland.
The only Sunderland player who really stood out was Lee Cattermole, he put in a few dirty tackles but he never gave up on his team. He worked his socks off all game but unfortunately it came to nothing but a yellow card.
Manchester United completely dominated every aspect of the game. They all linked up very well as a team and, once they broke the stale mate in the first half, United’s creativity and attacking mentality came booming out.
Everyone had a solid game, in particular Matteo Darmian impressed, showing off his ambidextrous foot work on an unfamiliar side of the pitch and, Chris Smalling was an animal in the heart of defence. He would not give Sunderland anything, another stellar performance from the Englishman.
The back four was a brick wall that helped David De Gea to his first Premier League clean sheet of the season, and with the way they’re playing, it won’t be the last.
Going forward, Mata was supreme; he scored and set one up, whilst having a 93% pass succession rate. It was a man of the match performance from United’s right winger.
In previous games there has been an obvious problem in forcing an attack from the centre of midfield, there looked to be a gap in the middle of the park in the first few games of the season. But not in this game.
Wayne Rooney has proved himself, once again, to be a key Manchester United player, not necessarily as a goal scorer, and definitely not as a striker, but as the vital link between the midfield and the natural striker.
He worked tirelessly for his club, working back to win the ball, pushing into advanced positions and linking up very well with Anthony Martial.
It looks like Rooney is back to his good old self, playing in his favoured position, off of a true striker, much like he used to with Ruud van Nistelrooy, Louis Saha, Dimitar Berbatov and, Robin van Persie. From this centre forward role he will both aid the team and score goals.
Finally, how could Anthony Martial not be mentioned, he may not have scored for a 3rd Premier League game in a row but, he put in his best performance yet. He didn’t stop running, connecting play and terrorising the Sunderland defence. His assist on Rooney’s goal once again showcased his incredible confidence and natural attacking ability.
It was a great performance from the Red Devils and now, Manchester United are at the top of the Barclay’s Premier League, for the first time since the great Sir Alex Ferguson retired.