There’s nothing like a win over your title rivals to inspire confidence in your play and as early as the second minute United were on the front foot. Jones raced onto Antonio Valencia’s pass – a nutmeg through the legs of Jack Colback – but Simon Mignolet was quick off his line to cut out Jones’ sliding cross. Ashley Young then had a shot deflected wide for a corner on six minutes and, after the resulting corner, forced a fingertip save from Mignolet.
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