Sunderland 0 Man United 1
Manchester United Factsbook Report: Sunderland 0 Manchester United 1, The Stadium of Light, English Premier League, May 13, 2012. A first half goal from England international Wayne Rooney sealed a final day victory for Manchester United against Sunderland at The Stadium of Light. Unfortunately, the narrow 1-0 away triumph over The Wearsiders was not enough to clinch the Premiership title as Roberto Mancini´s Manchester City went on to defeat Queens Park Rangers by 3-2 at Etihad Stadium.
Reigning Premiership Champions Manchester United had kicked off the 2011-12 season by edging out FA Cup holders Manchester City 3-2 at Wembley Stadium in the FA Community Shield on the 7th of August 2011 with Portuguese international winger Luis Nani producing a double alongside one goal by Chris Smalling. On the 30th of November 2011, United were knocked out in the 5th round of the Football League Cup following a surprise 2-1 defeat against Crystal Palace at Old Trafford. Then, on the 7th of December 2011, Manchester United succumbed to a 2–1 loss against Swiss Champions FC Basel 1893 at St. Jakob-Park, a result which meant that they were eliminated in the group stage of the UEFA Champions League. United beat bitter adversaries Manchester City 3-2 at the Etihad Stadium in the third round of the FA Cup on the 8th of January 2012 thanks to a brace by Wayne Rooney and one goal from Danny Welbeck, only to lose 2-1 to North West rivals Liverpool at Anfield in the next round of the competition. In the UEFA Europa League, Manchester United dispatched of AFC Ajax in the Round of 32, but were knocked out by Athletic Bilbao in the Round of 16.
In the Premier League, Manchester United had beaten West Bromwich Albion 2-1 at The Hawthorns on the opening day of the Premiership campaign thanks to an early opener after thirteen minutes from Wayne Rooney and a late own goal in the 81st minute from Steven Reid. United followed up by defeating Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 at Old Trafford eight days later courtesy of a goal each from Danny Welbeck, Oliveira Anderson, and Rooney in the 61st, 76th, and 87th minute of the clash respectively and found themselves among the early pacesetters. The Red Devils then beat Arsenal 8-2 at home, Bolton Wanderers 5-0 away, and Chelsea at 3-1 at home before they were held to an unexpected 1-1 draw against Stoke City at Britannia Stadium on the 24th of September, with Nani giving the visiting team the upper hand on 27 minutes and Peter Crouch equalising for The Potters seven minutes following the half-time break. After comfortably beating Premiership newcomers Norwich City by a 2-0 score at Old Trafford through second half goals from Anderson and Welbeck in their next top-flight game on the 1st of October, Manchester United led the Premier League table on goal difference from Manchester City who, for their part, had defeated Swansea City 4-0, Bolton 3-2, Tottenham 5-1, Wigan Athletic 3-0, Everton 2-0, and Blackburn Rovers 4-0, and drawn 2-2 against Fulham. United were surpassed by Roberto Mancini´s men following an evenly contested 1-1 draw with Liverpool at Anfield two weeks later, though, and then they suffered a painful 6-1 loss at the hands of The Sky Blues at their Old Trafford home eight days later. Manchester United´s form improved as the boys in red shirts went unbeaten in their next nine matches in the Premier League, but they remained in second place until a workmanlike 2-0 win over West Bromwich at The Theatre of Dreams on the 11th of March 2012 sent them top of the standings. The Manchester Reds then won their next four Premiership fixtures and looked set to collect the Premier League title.
For their final fixture of the season, Manchester United would travel to Wearside to take on Sunderland at the Stadium of Light, while The Citizens would entertain relegation struggling Queens Park Rangers at Eastlands. According to Sir Alex Ferguson, it was Manchester United´s attacking and adventurous approach that made the club world famous. The Old Trafford outfit had nonetheless failed to score in their two previous away fixtures and after being eight points ahead in the Premier League only a few weeks earlier, they were now sitting behind leaders and bitter enemies Manchester City on goal difference with only one match remaining of the season. Manchester United came into the encounter against Sunderland on the ultimate day of the campaign knowing that they needed to better Manchester City’s result to have any hope of clinching the Premier League title. The Reds had defeated Swansea City 2-0 at Old Trafford in their penultimate Premiership fixture of the season, while The Black Cats had been edged out 2-1 by Fulham at Craven Cottage in their previous Premier League match. United had to make do without the playing services of England internationals Chris Smalling and Danny Welbeck, whereas Sunderland were missing Swedish midfielder Sebastian Larsson and former Old Trafford player Kieran Richardson. As expected, Manchester United controlled the possession of the ball for large parts of the game against the Wearside outfit and the away side deservedly took the lead in the 20th minute of the tussle when an unmarked Wayne Rooney headed home a centre from fellow England international Phil Jones; a goal which was his 34th of the season. The home team should have equalised nine minutes ahead of the half-time break, though, as an excellent cross from forward thinking midfield workhorse Stephane Sessegnon found Frazier Campbell, but the former United striker could only volley the ball wide of the goal. At the Etihad Stadium, however, Manchester City went into a 1-0 lead against relegation struggling Queens Park Rangers thanks to a goal from Argentine defender Pablo Zabaleta in the 39th minute.
Manchester United started the second period against Sunderland well and continued to dominate the play throughout the match, but the title challenging visitors struggled to add to their goal tally. Meanwhile, strikers Djibril Cisse and Jamie Mackie scored a goal each for Queens Park Rangers Rangers to make the scoreline read 2-1 in the favour of the West London club at Eastlands. Back at the Stadium of Light, both teams made late substitutions, with England U21 international frontrunner Connor Wickham replacing midfield player David Vaughan in the 74th minute of action and Luis Nani coming on for wing colleague Ashley Young eight minutes later. But although Manchester United eventually bagged all three points with a hard fought 1-0 away victory against Martin O´Neill´s Sunderland side, Sir Alex Ferguson´s players were pipped at the post by cross-town rivals Manchester City who managed to edge out The Hoops 3-2 thanks to goals from Argentina international Sergio Aguero and Bosnian marksman Edin Dzeko during stoppage time. That’s football, that’s life. Sunderland Team: Simon Mignolet, Phil Bardsley, John O’Shea, Titus Bramble, Michael Turner, Jack Colback, Craig Gardner, David Vaughan, James McClean, Stephane Sessegnon, Fraizer Campbell. Substitutes: Sotiris Kyrgiakos, Ahmed Elmohamady, David Meyler, Wayne Bridge, Ji Dong-won, Connor Wickham, Kieren Westwood. Manchester United Team: David de Gea, Phil Jones, Rio Ferdinand, Patrice Evra, Jonny Evans, Antonio Valencia, Paul Scholes, Michael Carrick, Ryan Giggs, Ashley Young, Wayne Rooney. Substitutes: Michael Owen, Dimitar Berbatov, Javier Hernandez, Rafael da Silva, Ji-Sung Park, Luis Nani, Ben Amos.
Manchester United Quickfacts
Manchester United defeated Sunderland by 1-0 at The Stadium of Light in their penultimate fixture of the 2009-10 season through a goal from Luis Nani two minutes before the half-hour mark.
Athletic Bilbao 2 Manchester United 1
Wolverhampton Wanderers 0 Manchester United 5
Manchester United 1 Fulham 0
Blackburn Rovers 0 Manchester United 2
Manchester United 2 Queens Park Rangers 0
Wigan Athletic 1 Manchester United 0
Manchester United 4 Aston Villa 0
Manchester United 4 Everton 4
Manchester City 1 Manchester United 0
Manchester United 2 Swansea City 0
Won: 6 Drawn: 1 Lost: 3