|1||Van der Sar|
It can’t have been easy for Sir Alex’s men to step onto the pitch in Sunderland after seeing Chelsea beat Liverpool at Anfield in the day’s early kick-off. But the Reds, boosted by the inclusion of Wayne Rooney from the opening whistle, began brightly.
Rooney, who had started only two of United’s last five fixtures, took just four minutes to make an impact, chesting down a cross from Dimitar Berbatov and volleying towards the far post. Sunderland goalkeeper Craig Gordon was equal to the task and then grateful to his defenders for blocking Ryan Giggs’ follow-up.
At the other end, the home side threatened twice from set pieces: John Mensah headed wide from an early corner before captain Lorik Cana flicked a free-kick just over the bar. Mensah limped off after 18 minutes, though, as Black Cats boss and former United captain Steve Bruce was forced to reshuffle his defence.
The Reds almost reaped immediate rewards when Giggs clipped the corner of the crossbar after expertly making space for himself on the edge of the box. Gordon was well beaten on that occasion, just as he was on 28 minutes when Nani fired low and hard past the Scottish stopper to give United the lead.