Manchester United close in on City with win over woeful Sunderland

A Zlatan Ibrahimovic special and a straight red card dealt to Sebastian Larsson helped Manchester United defeat Sunderland 3-0 at the Stadium of Light.

Jose Mourinho made some surprising team changes with David de Gea missing due to an unspecified reason, Marouane Fellaini captaining the side and Luke Shaw also starting. But it was the ever-reliable goal scoring source of Ibrahimovic that gave United the edge, the Swede turning Billy Jones before rifling an unstoppable shot past Jordan Pickford and into the far corner.

Sunderland rallied with Victor Anichebe denied by Sergio Romero at close range before Craig Pawson made Sunderland’s task almost impossible, sending Larsson from the field after he caught Ander Herrera on the shin with his studs showing.

It spelled the beginning of the end for Sunderland, Henrikh Mkhitarian doubling United’s advantage with a smart finish inside the far post before substitute Marcus Rashford scored his first Premier League goal since September moments before the final whistle.

Victory for United means they leapfrog Arsenal to fifth, four points behind Manchester City and with a game in hand. But Sunderland remain rock bottom and appear certain for the drop. They next face Swansea at home, followed by trips to Middlesbrough and Hull. They will need to win all three.

Manchester United are now unbeaten in nine PL away matches (W7-D2), their longest away unbeaten run since 13 matches in December 2012 – August 2013.

David Moyes has lost 16 PL matches as a manager against Manchester United, only one fewer than the number of PL fixtures he won while in charge of the Red Devils (17).

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Marcus Rashford ends a run of 20 PL appearances without a goal, since he netted in the 4-1 home win against Leicester City on 24 September 2016.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has now scored in seven of his last eight PL away appearances (total nine goals), only failing to net in that run in the 1-1 draw at Stoke City on 21 January.

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