Red Devils back in the g-Roo-ve

Louis van Gaal’s men take top spot

Manchester United took top spot in the Barclays Premier League after a 3-0 success against Sunderland at Old Trafford.

Goals by Memphis Depay, Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata propelled the Red Devils over their arch rivals Manchester City, who stumbled to a 4-1 defeat at Tottenham.

Sunderland boss Dick Advocaat has seen his side have a troubled season so far, but would be encouraged by the performance here, despite the scoreline.

Meanwhile, United counterpart, and fellow Dutchman Louis van Gaal, has overseen a return to league form in the last few games, since the 2-1 defeat to Swansea City.

There were five changes to the United lineup: Depay, Matteo Darmian, Michael Carrick, Morgan Schneiderlin and Anthony Martial all coming in to start.

New signing Martial was looking for a fifth goal in five games, and he almost found it in the sixth minute, just failing to connect with a Darmian cross.

United were awarded a free-kick on the edge of the Black Cats box when visiting keeper Costel Pantilimon was adjudged to have handled outside the area. Mata could not get the kick over the wall.

The home took the lead just before half time. Daley Blind found Mata, the Spaniard glancing it to Depay to fire home.

At half time, Advocaat brought on Steven Fletcher for Adam Johnson, hoping to unlock the home defence.

The move backfired however, as United doubled their lead. Martial, a constant menace to the Sunderland defence, outwitted Younes Kaboul before slotting across goal. Rooney was on hand to tap home.

This woke Sunderland up, and they forced a succession of corners. But they could not capitalise on the chances. Patrick van Aanholt saw an effort saved by David De Gea.

Pantilimon then denied Depay after the Dutchman was put through by Martial.

Mata then had an effort tipped round the post. The Spaniard would not be denied though, and he duly wrapped up proceedings in the 90th minute, firing home from a cross by substitute Ashley Young.

The loss keeps Sunderland firmly rooted in the bottom two of the table, while United secured a third straight league win.

by Steve Osborne

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