Berbatov double downs Black Cats
A Dimitar Berbatov double extended Manchester United's unbeaten run to 17 games and consolidated their position at the Barclays Premier League summit as Sunderland were brushed aside 2-0 at Old Trafford.
The Bulgarian provided his side with a flying start when he nodded home Wayne Rooney's far-post cross after four minutes.
But Berbatov required a hefty deflection off Anton Ferdinand to net his 13th goal of the season.
Berbatov broke the deadlock in simple fashion after five minutes. Ryan Giggs drove at the Sunderland midfield before laying off a pass to Rooney, with Berbatov in space at the far post. All his strike partner had to do was find him, which he did with a superb chipped cross that the Bulgarian powered home.
United were dominant and Rooney floated an excellent chip narrowly wide before Berbatov thudded a shot against the post. Then Anderson weaved his way into space on the edge of the area and curled a shot that beat Craig Gordon but crashed down off the crossbar.
The Scotland goalkeeper was relieved to see another Berbatov effort flash into the side netting, then saved with his feet as Giggs threatened.
Amid all this, Rooney had let fly from the edge of the area and had Gordon scrambling to make the save.
Yet it remained 1-0 at half-time and, as if to prove how precarious their position was, United's goal came under threat at the start of the second period.
First Steed Malbranque then Asamoah Gyan tried their luck, the latter blazing over with a volley from an acute angle. But the worries were brought to an end when United benefited from a slice of luck they should not have needed.
With Rooney's overlapping run offering Berbatov space after Anderson had picked out the Bulgarian with a pass he delivered whilst appearing to look the other way, a shot was lined up for the right corner of Gordon's goal. The goalkeeper committed, Berbatov's effort then struck Anton Ferdinand and went in.