who appeared to twist his ankle in a freak off-the-ball incident before even 60 seconds had elapsed. His afternoon was over barely after it had begun.
Fellow Black Cats forward Nicklas Bendtner then forced the first save of the game, placing a low shot to countryman Anders Lindegaard's right. The Reds goalkeeper, making only his second league appearance, was equal to the test and gathered the ball at the second attempt after stretching to parry the initial shot.
United took far longer to settle and were too often wasteful with possession in the final third. In fact, it took until the 31st minute to muster a shot on goal, Wayne Rooney blasting straight at Keiren Westwood in the Sunderland goal.
Little improved soon after, although the Reds did have a half-hearted shout for a penalty (correctly) turned down when Sebastian Larsson bundled Chicharito to the ground after Darren Fletcher's neat pass had sent the Mexican through on goal.
Summer signing Phil Jones almost opened his United account in spectacular fashion when he volleyed a bouncing ball just over the bar from 18 yards. He then combined well with Nani down the right in a move that ended with Westwood making a sharp save down to his right to deny the Portuguese.
From the resulting corner, the Reds took the lead in first-half injury time, although there was plenty of doubt over who should be credited