Zabaleta had put City ahead at the Etihad Stadium.
While the news was a blow to United’s hopes of retaining the title, it didn’t affect the pattern of play on the field. Valencia almost added a second goal in added time at the end of the first half, but his powerful shot deflected straight into Mignolet’s midriff.
The Belgian stopper was called into action soon after the start of the second period, as a pair of lovely flicks from Giggs and Young culminated in the latter releasing Rooney, whose thunderous close-range effort thudded off Mignolet and away to safety.
Events for United hinged entirely on how City were faring at the Etihad Stadium, and as news filtered through that QPR - despite the sending-off of Joey Barton - had moved into the lead.
As United dared to dream, Sunderland rallied and applied plenty of pressure on the visitors. The Reds were also threatening, however, with every forward foray, and Young looked certain to double the Reds’ advantage until his powerful volley was deflected wide by Michael Turner.
A tense game continued apace, with United still seeking a killer second goal to tie up their end of the bargain. A brilliantly-worked move involving Young and Rooney released Scholes just outside the Sunderland area, only for Turner to cynically halt his progress at the expense of a booking.
Though Giggs curled the subsequent free-kick into the wall, both he and Scholes came close to doubling United's lead with 15 minutes remaining. Scholes' 20-yard effort thudded back into play off the upright, and Giggs' thunderous rebound from the edge of the area was spectacularly tipped over by the