Pressure on Sunderland manager Dick Advocaat has intensified after goals from Memphis Depay, Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata gave Manchester United a 3-0 home victory.
It was a very slow start to the match at Old Trafford with very few opportunities with Jeremain Lens and Memphis Depay having the only shots of any recognition within the first half-hour and looked to be goal-less going into the break before Depay gave United the lead on the stroke of half-time.
Rooney immediately doubled United's lead at the beginning of the second period, the Black Cats had a mini resurgence with Steven Fletcher and Patrick van Aanholt both coming close to halving the deficit. Memphis and Juan Mata both went close to a third goal before the creative Spaniard put the icing on the cake in stoppage time.
The beginning of the match had very few opportunities from either side, Costel Pantilimon made a major mistake 16 minutes in when he decided to catch the ball outside the area despite Younes Kaboul shepherding back to him but the home side wasted an excellent opportunity.
Both goalkeepers were called into action in quick succession halfway through the first period, it was Lens first who had Fabio Borini screaming for the ball in the middle but the Dutchman opted to strike goalwards - with David de Gea making a save with his legs to thwart the winger.
Then it was the turn of Pantilimon when Depay tried to curl an effort from the edge of the area, but it was easy for the Romanian to tip over the crossbar and the resulting corner-kick came to nothing.
Depay breaks the deadlock
Sunderland were proving stern and looked to be heading into the break with their confidence on cloud nine until Memphis gave United the lead on the stroke of the half-time whistle.
It was good play from the home side as Daley Blind lofted the ball upfield into the path of Mata who did brilliantly to play it across the area into the path of Memphis. The 21-year-old was lurking in the box and narrowly managed to sneak past Billy Jones to the ball, tapping home from close-range.
Rooney ends his drought
Advocaat's second-half plans were thrown straight out of the window as United doubled their almost immediately after the restart. United's club captain Rooney was edging closer to 1000 minutes without a Premier League goal but he was undoubtedly relieved as he bundled the ball into the net with his knee after Anthony Martial did brilliantly to beat two men to fire the ball across into the Englishman's path.
Sunderland pick up the pace
The Black Cats looked shell shocked after Rooney put United two goals to the good, but showed great mental toughness - and could have possibly halved the deficit, if not for the defensive excellent of Chris Smalling. Lens whipped a great ball into the area looking for the head of substitute Steven Fletcher but Smalling did great to get in front of him to head away the dangerous ball.
They came even closer just after the hour mark when van Aanholt raced clear down the left-hand side after Borini had made the space and the Dutch full-back fizzed one towards goal but de Gea stood tall to block the effort with his legs.
United go for a third
After that wake-up call United began to assert their dominance once again and should have had a third in the 68th minute, Martial showed great strength in the hold-up play before playing the ball through to Memphis who was clean through on goal but fired straight at Pantilimon.
With 15 minutes to play they had another excellent opportunity when Mata cut inside from the left-hand side and his shot looked destined for the bottom corner but Pantilimon managed to get down brilliantly to tip it wide and keep the scoreline respectable.
Mata rounds it off
The game began to peter out entering stoppage time in the second period but Mata managed to round off the win with United’s third goal.
Substitute Ashley Young managed to get beyond Jones and whipped the ball into the Spaniard who did brilliantly to kill the ball dead before he smashed the ball into the roof of the net.