Man United 1 Sunderland 0
Manchester United 1 Sunderland 0, Old Trafford, English Premier League, November 5, 2011. Sir Alex Ferguson´s men overcame Sunderland by 1-0 on Guy Fawkes Day 2011 courtesy of an own goal by Wes Brown who managed to deflect a header from Danny Welbeck into the back of his own net in first half stoppage time to give The Reds their fourth successive win.
In front of a 75,000 crowd, Manchester United Chief Executive David Gill announced before the Premier League fixture against Sunderland that the club had renamed their North stand after manager Sir Alex Ferguson in honour of his twenty-five years of dedicated service to the Old Trafford club. In the corresponding meeting of the 2010-11 season, Manchester United had comfortably defeated Sunderland 2-0 at The Theatre of Drams thanks to an early opener by Bulgarian marksman Dimitar Berbatov and a second half own goal from Rio Ferdinand´s brother Anton, and the hosts were firm favourites to win this time around as well. The Black Cats suffered an early blow when England U21 international Connor Wickham was injured within the first two minutes and the free flowing flanker had to be replaced by South Korea midfielder Ji Dong-won, but Steve Bruce´s lads nevertheless began the game on a positive note with a couple of decent goal scoring opportunities. As time wore on, though, the Sunderland side were gradually pushed back by the well-organised home outfit who started to knock the ball around confidently. Then, towards the end of the first half, Javier Hernandez screamed for a penalty after tumbling under Seb Larsson´s challenge, but his appeals for a spot-kick were duly waved away by match official Lee Mason. After increasing the pressure, however, Manchester United eventually went into a deserved 1-0 lead just a few seconds before the sound of the half-time signal when Wes Brown deflected a Danny Welbeck header past Sunderland custodian Kieren Westwood and into his own net.
Following the interval, Hernandez almost added a second goal for Manchester United four minutes past the hour-mark, but the striker´s header was cleared off the line by versatile midfielder Kieran Richardson. There was even more drama at The Theatre of Dreams in the 67th minute of proceedings when Mason blew for a deliberate handball from Manchester United defender Phil Jones inside the eighteen-yard box, only to change his mind after a lengthy consultation with linesman Jake Colling. As the match progressed, Manchester United looked comfortable with their lead and the red shirts were content to play out the remainder of the second half. The narrow, but important, triumf against Sunderland at Old Trafford meant that Manchester United remained second in the Premier League standings with twenty-six points gained from eleven games played, five points behind neighbouring Manchester City who were topping the table. Manchester United Team: Anders Lindegaard, Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand, Phil Jones, Patrice Evra, Ji-sung Park, Darren Fletcher, Luis Nani, Javier Hernandez, Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck. Substitutes: Fabio da Silva, Jonathan Evans, Antonio Valencia, Michael Carrick, Dimitar Berbatov, Mame Biram Diouf, David de Gea. Sunderland Team: Kieren Westwood, Phil Bardsley, Wesley Brown, Michael Turner, Jack Colback, Sebastian Larsson, Kieran Richardson, Stephane Sessegnon, Lee Cattermole, Nicklas Bendtner, Connor Wickham. Substitutes: Ji Dong-won, Ahmed Elmohamady, John Egan, Craig Gardner, David Meyler, James McClean, Trevor Carson.