Following another corner shortly after that, Patrice Evra found himself unmarked on the penalty spot with the ball at his feet, but he blazed his shot over the bar. With two goals already to his name this season, it may be too much to expect a third. But the inevitable breakthrough came on 16 minutes and was instigated by the guile and persistence of van Persie and Ashley Young. The Dutchman elegantly received a lofted pass on his chest before sweeping the ball out to Young. After one blocked attempt at a cross, Young engineered space with a sharp turn and as Sunderland captain John O’Shea bodged a clearance from the subsequent cross, van Persie took advantage with one touch to control and a second to sweep the ball into the top corner.
Van Persie almost grabbed a swift second when his header from Jones’ deep cross was turned around the post by Mignolet. United continued to pour forward and within seconds Tom Cleverley doubled the lead with his first league goal at Old Trafford. Receiving the ball wide on the right he slipped a pass inside to Carrick, who played an inch-perfect return ball into the penalty area, which Cleverley met with an arcing shot past Mignolet into the far corner. Rooney almost added a third, but his volley from van Persie’s headed knock-down went over.
Sunderland’s first-half forays forward were limited purely because United commanded the game so convincingly, as Carrick led possession with his more attacking team-mates swarming forward. Sunderland's best chance of the half came when James McClean dispossessed Ferdinand and attacked the goal from a title angle. However, De Gea made himself big to block the shot.
United were forced into a change at half time as Carrick made way for Paul Scholes, while Sunderland swapped Steven Fletcher for Connor Wickham. It didn’t seem to affect United’s intention to attack as Rooney struck the bar from close range shortly after the restart