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 Wednesday, 1 January, 2003, 15:56 GMT
Man Utd snatch dramatic win
David Beckham celebrates his Old Trafford equaliser
Beckham celebrates as Solskjaer breathes a sigh of relief
Manchester United 2-1 Sunderland

David Beckham and Paul Scholes rescued Manchester United with late goals to deny Sunderland a priceless Old Trafford scalp.

Beckham finally found a way past the outstanding Jurgen Macho with nine minutes left to spare United's blushes after a bizarre early own goal by Juan Sebastian Veron.

And Scholes sealed victory in stoppage time when he nodded past Macho from close range from United's 32nd effort on goal.

Old Trafford highlights
4 mins: Veron heads into his own net
8 mins: Scholes shot smashes against both posts
65 mins: Macho brilliantly denies Ferdinand
81 mins: Beckham forces an equaliser
90 mins: Scholes heads the winner
The late fightback was tough on the Black Cats who, with only six Premiership wins in 2002, had desperately needed a change in fortune.

They were gifted it in comical circumstances inside four minutes.

Fabien Barthez flapped at a cross and only half cleared to Gavin McCann, whose tame shot deflected off Roy Keane.

With Veron and Rio Ferdinand covering the net, a clearance should have been routine, but 50m of combined talent failed to deal with the situation as Veron flicked a header past his team-mate and into his own goal.

It was like watching the tide coming in

Sunderland manager Howard Wilkinson

United's response was swift and Scholes was desperately unlucky not to force an equaliser when his right-foot shot smashed against both posts and back into the grateful arms of Macho.

Sunderland's Steven Wright (left) holds off Ole Gunnar Solkjaer
Wright grapples with Solskjaer

The Austrian, who has now figured in Sunderland's last visits to Old Trafford despite failing to win a regular place in the side, was vital to Sunderland's dogged protection of their early lead.

He made first-half saves to keep out Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's shot on the turn and Beckham's free-kick and then reacted well early in the second half to keep out Solskjaer's shot with his legs.

Macho also reacted well to tip over Veron's searching chip 10 minutes into the second half.

But the best save of all came on 63 minutes when Macho scrambled across his goal to keep out Rio Ferdinand's shot from Beckham's low centre.

Beckham was pivotal to United's recovery and the England captain had claims for a penalty waved away when he tumbled under a nervy challenge from George McCartney.

Sunderland are gifted an early lead as Veron (centre) heads into his own net
Veron heads into his own net on four minutes

But Sunderland's most influential midfielder was forced off after only 14 minutes, McCann feeling the effects of an illness which had threatened to keep him out.

United also lost goalkeeper Barthez in the first half, a victim of a groin injury which prompted a call to action for Roy Carroll on 29 minutes.

Carroll may as well have left his gloves on the bench as he was barely called upon in a remaining hour which saw United lay siege to the Sunderland goal.

We showed the type of determination and perseverance we have done so often down the years

Man Utd manager Sir Alex Ferguson

And, just as it appeared that Sunderland would hold on, their defensive back door finally creaked open.

Silvestre's forward whack caught the Black Cats' back four pushing forward and Beckham siezed the opportunity to finally escape the shackles of the determined McCartney and poke past Macho.

That goal heralded a 10-minute cavalry charge by United, capped by Scholes' late header from Silvestre's hooked cross which denied Sunderland the point that Macho's heroics had merited.



Man Utd: Barthez (Carroll 29), O'Shea (Giggs 63), Ferdinand, Brown, Silvestre, Beckham, Keane, Veron (Gary Neville 90), Scholes, Forlan, Solskjaer.
Subs Not Used: Phil Neville, Richardson.

Booked: Ferdinand, Solskjaer.

Sunderland: Macho, Wright, Craddock, Babb, McCartney, Kilbane, McCann (Williams 14), Thirlwell, Stewart (Oster 84), Phillips, Flo (Proctor 72).
Subs Not Used: Sorensen, Bjorklund.

Booked: Wright.

Attendance: 67,609.

Referee: G Poll (Hertfordshire).

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
 BBC Five Live's Steve Wilson
"Sunderland's massive effort deserved a point"
 Man Utd boss Alex Ferguson
"We should have been in-front at half-time"
 Sunderland boss Howard Wilkinson
"I'm disappointed to concede as late as we did"
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