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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 December 2007, 16:58 GMT
Sunderland 0-4 Man Utd
By Ian Hughes

Wayne Rooney
Rooney wheels away in delight after opening the scoring
Manchester United swept aside Sunderland with ease to end the day top of the Premier League after Arsenal's evening draw at Portsmouth.

An inspired Wayne Rooney opened the scoring on 20 minutes, coolly stroking the ball home from 18 yards.

Rooney then set up United's second, clipping in a cross for Louis Saha to volley sweetly into the bottom corner.

Cristiano Ronaldo curled in a free-kick on 45 minutes and Saha rounded things off with an 86th-minute penalty.

Sunderland boss, and former United skipper, Roy Keane had sprung a major surprise against his old club by including 17-year-old striker Martyn Waghorn in his line-up.

And initially, the teenager betrayed the fact he was making his first senior appearance by showing a decent touch and willingness to take on United's vastly experienced players.

But his team-mates lacked either the guile or the confidence to emulate his fearlessness.

And instead, Ronaldo and Rooney soon began to dictate the play and stroke the ball around nonchalantly.

Never mind that United had left out Carlos Tevez, Ryan Giggs and Anderson, it was quickly evident that the starting XI would have too much for their opponents.

Sunderland kept United out for only 20 minutes and when they were undone it was by a simple Wes Brown through-ball.

Rooney collected the pass in acres of space and finished in style for his first Premier League goal since October.

Ten minutes later Rooney turned provider, chipping in a cross from the left wing, which was met perfectly by the right boot of Saha.


As United cantered, and Sunderland laboured to create anything of note, the best chances still came the way of the visitors.

Ronaldo had a free-kick beaten away by Craig Gordon, who later saved at the feet of Nani, and Menanja Vidic smashed a volley over the bar from six yards.

In between, Ross Wallace had tested Tomasz Kuszczak with a shot that needed a strong palm to divert it over the bar.

That was the first time since the early exchanges that Kuszczak had been anything other than a bystander.

After the interval, both sides appeared largely content with what they had got - United a comfortable three points, and Sunderland a comprehensive defeat that had not quite become embarrassing.

As a consequence the game lost pace and invention and chances were infrequent.

However, Kuszczak made hard work of saving a Kenwyne Jones effort and Nani might have done better than slash a shot across the face of goal.

Later, a gilt-edged chance came Rooney's way, but he sliced the ball and sent it high and wide from the near post.

Just when it seemed the action was at an end, Nani was felled in the area by Danny Collins and Saha confidently dispatched the resultant spot-kick.

  • Sunderland manager Roy Keane:
    "It is never nice to lose. We are disappointed but United's class told in the end.

    "Credit to United but we gave soft goals away - especially the first two. Their third goal was class but we were a bit unlucky with the penalty.

    "The good players will always take advantage of your mistakes and United did that today."

  • Manchester United assistant boss Carlos Queiroz:
    "It was a great Manchester United performance, with lots of concentration and determination.

    "The first goal, coming so early, was a turning point and helped us have what looked to be a comfortable win.

    "The movement off the ball was special and that helped Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo to play so well."

    Sunderland: Gordon, Whitehead, McShane, Higginbotham, Collins, Wallace (Leadbitter 46), Etuhu, Yorke (Richardson 61), Waghorn, Jones, Chopra (O'Donovan 86).
    Subs Not Used: Ward, Cole.

    Booked: Whitehead, McShane.

    Man Utd: Kuszczak, O'Shea, Ferdinand, Vidic (Pique 73), Brown, Ronaldo (Park 57), Fletcher, Carrick, Nani, Rooney, Saha.
    Subs Not Used: Heaton, Evra, Tevez.

    Booked: Fletcher.

    Goals: Rooney 20, Saha 30, Ronaldo 45, Saha 86 pen.

    Att: 47,360

    Ref: Uriah Rennie (S Yorkshire).

    BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Cristiano Ronaldo 8.75 (on 90 minutes).

  • Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.

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