Sunderland 0-3 Manchester United
Attendance: 43, 779
Sunderland suffered a third successive Premier League defeat on Sunday as Manchester United cruised to victory at the Stadium of Light.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic was subdued in the opening stages but as the half-hour mark approached he seized control, with a bolt from the blue giving Jordan Pickford no chance as the Swede took centre stage.
International team-mate Seb Larsson soon took the spotlight, though, but it wasn’t in a way Black Cats would have hoped, as the midfielder was given a straight red card before the break.
And within seconds of the restart it was game over on Wearside, as Henrikh Mkhitaryan rifled the ball into the bottom corner before Marcus Rashford completed the scoring late on.
Sunderland were handed a boost ahead of the game as Victor Anichebe returned to the starting XI, with Lee Cattermole once again captaining the Lads in John O’Shea’s absence.
United, meanwhile, were without David de Gea as Jose Mourinho recalled Paul Pogba and Mkhitaryan to a side which also included Ibrahimovic.
England international Jesse Lingard signed a new deal at Old Trafford earlier in the week, and the forward mustered the first effort at goal as Pickford stooped to his left with three minutes played.
United bossed the possession during the early stages with Luke Shaw enjoying immense freedom down the left-hand side, but the Black Cats came through the opening ten minutes unscathed.
Sunderland first tested the visitors with 13 minutes played as Anichebe used his strength to get the better of Matteo Darmian, with the striker backing into the box and rolling the defender before seeing his attempted cross blocked behind.
But it produced the lift the players needed, with the Black Cats growing in stature as space started to appear in the final third.
Shaw picked up the first yellow card soon after with Marcos Rojo’s high challenge on Jermain Defoe giving Larsson a sight at goal, but the despite finding the target the Swede’s effort was gobbled up by stand-in stopper Sergio Romero.
Cattermole was next to try his luck but once again Romero made light work of the save, with Defoe firing wide one on one before an offside flag rendered the attack void.
At the other end, Lingard forced Pickford into a fine one-handed stop as the half-hour marked approached, but the Washington-born stopper was powerless to prevent what followed.
Zlatan came, he saw, he conquered, turning far too easily on the edge of the box before drilling a sublime effort past Pickford and into the bottom corner to hand United a 1-0 lead.
Marouane Fellaini could have doubled the visitors’ lead five minutes later as Shaw continued to enjoy far too much freedom down the left flank, but the United captain’s effort cannoned off Bryan Oviedo and allowed Pickford to collect the loose ball.
And it would be the defender’s final contribution, as he limped down the tunnel shortly after with a suspected hamstring injury.
Sunderland could have been level before the beak when Anichebe turned into a one-on-one six yards out, but Romero judged the situation to a tee and produced a decisive save.
The Black Cats were dealt a further blow before the break as Larsson received a straight red card for a challenge on Ander Herrera, giving the Black Cats a mountain to climb in the second-half.
But they wouldn’t climb it, with any hopes of an unlikely comeback ended within 60 seconds of the restart as Mkhitaryan fired United into a 2-0 lead.
Sunderland continued to battle and squeeze the most out of every second on the ball, but their best opportunity was a half-chance at best, as Defoe’s rasping effort sailed over the bar.
Marcus Rashford entered the fray in the final stages of the game and the youngster’s paced caused problems as the Black Cats pushed forward, and he wrapped up three points in added time with a well-taken finish.
Sunderland’s wait for a win – and a goal – continues.
Sunderland: Pickford, Jones, Oviedo (Manquillo 39), Denayer, Larsson, Cattermole (Borini 66) Rodwell, Ndong, Defoe, Kone, Anichebe.
Subs not used: Mannone, Djilobodji, Khazri, Pienaar, Gibson.
Manchestder United: Romero, Bailly, Rojo, Pogba, Ibrahimovic, Lingard (Rashford 64), Herrera, Mkhitaryan (Martial 77), Shaw (Blind 61), Fellaini, Darmian.
Substitutes not used: Martial, Carrick, Fosu-Mensah, Pereira.