United's campaign to win a 20th league title received an unexpected boost on Saturday afternoon when rivals Manchester City dropped two home points.
The Blues, in fact, came very close to suffering a first home league defeat for 15 months as they were trailing 3-1 with six minutes to go. Roberto Mancini's men dramatically dragged themselves level with Mario Balotelli's second goal of the game and Aleksandar Kolarov's equaliser immediately afterwards.
Sunderland had previously seemed well set to become the first away team to win at the Etihad Stadium in the league since Everton triumphed 2-1 on 20 December 2010. Even though Balotelli's first goal, a penalty, cancelled out Sebastian Larsson's opener, the Black Cats went back in front on the brink of half-time thanks to a close-range header from former Arsenal striker Nicklas Bendtner.
Larsson's second goal of the game, ten minutes after the interval, put daylight between the sides. Roberto Mancini, already missing the injured Sergio Aguero and Samir Nasri, then withdrew his