Sunderland 0 Manchester United 0

04 October 2010 09:40
Sunderland 0 Manchester United 0

WHEN it opened in 1997, the naming of Sunderland's stadium was met with raised eyebrows while Newcastle fans quickly coined a name for the ground, a moniker considered less than complimentary.

But on Saturday, the Stadium of Light quite literally lived up to its vulgar nickname when a waste pipe burst above Manchester United's changing room, ten minutes before kick-off.

Most of United's equipment and kit had to be disposed of, but it was the team itself that stunk the most and Sunderland were unlucky not to capitalise on their visitors' misfortune.

Instead Steve Bruce was left to rue a host of missed opportunities as he witnessed his Sunderland charges dominate a United side looking jaded from their midweek exploits at Valencia.

The Black Cats hit a post and were denied by some inspired goalkeeping by Edwin Van der Sar .

While there was material improvement in the second half, it was Sunderland who finished the game on top and Bruce was clearly impressed.

He said: With a bit of luck it could have been a win. I've said this a few weeks now. If I'm being critical, we should have taken one of those chances. Against United you don't get many, but we've taken all the big teams on and given as good as we've got.

Man of the match Steed Malbranque went one-on-one with van der Sar after Lee Cattermole's perfect through-ball on 16 minutes, but the Belgium- born Frenchman could only shoot straight at the Dutchman.

Bruce said: Steed told me he thought he was offside, which might be why he sauntered up to it. But he is revelling in the new role we have created for him the team have responded too and I couldn't be more pleased.

Believe me, he likes this position we have created for him, which gives him a freedom.

He is very clever and we know we can give him the ball in very tight situations and he retains it for us. If you play three in the middle you have to play through your midfield, which we do with Steed and it works.

He has worked harder physically and we have worked on intensity, which has benefited him. For instance, he came off after 60 or 70 minutes every week, now his stats are fantastic and fair play to him.

Bolo Zenden, in for the ineligible Danny Welbeck, hit the woodwork on 37 minutes when his shot struck the base of his former international teammate's post.

Such was Sunderland's domination, Simon Mignolet barely had a save to make, but he did well to deny Rafael's cross, which was inadvertently dropping into the net when the young Belgian plucked it out of the sky just before halftime.

If United's changing rooms were a mess at kick-off, one would hate to think what the state of them would have been at half-time, with Sir Alex Ferguson clearly irked by his side's lack of application in the opening period.

But United came out of the blocks with some purpose, and substitute Dimitar Berbatov thought he'd got his side ahead in the 48th minute after diverting a Scholes shot past Mignolet, but replays proved he was was a yard offside.

On 62 minutes, Jordan Henderson's free-kick fell to Ahmed Elmohamady, who hd a shot blocked then blazed his second over the crossbar.

On 73 minutes, Phil Bardsley burst into the United box and squared the ball for Bent, but the England international skewed his shot wide.

As poor as United were, they had their chances. On 77 minutes, Nani's 25-yard shot was well blocked by Mignolet while a Berbatov effort spun wide after substitute Javier Hernandez' clever throughball.

Sunderland opted to spend the last ten minutes in a 4-4-2 formation, with Asamoah Gyan and Andy Reid on as substitutes, and this almost yielded an instant reaction.

From Reid's initial ball, Elmohamady pumped in a cross for Gyan, which the Ghanaian rose acrobatically to fire into van der Sar's hands.

Sunderland had another chance at the death when Henderson's shot was diverted towards goal by Bent but was cleared.

The draw left Bruce still in search of a win against his former side, but he said: You're always delighted to get a point from it. I've been going at it for 15 years to beat them and I thought that today might have been the day.

We've even tried to sabotage the toilets. God knows what we'll try next time.

Scoreboard Bookings: Vidic (16, foul); Turner (90, foul); Rafael (90, foul)

Referee: Chris Foy (St Helens) Fair performance, made the right decisions but should have booked Scholes for a blatant push in the second half 6

Attendance: 41,709



7 Mignolet: Surprisingly, didn't have much to do, but will be delighted with a clean sheet;

7 Onuoha: Linked up with Elmohamady to good effect, likes to get forward;

7 Turner: Repelled everything at the back, kept it simple and cleared his lines;

7 Bramble: Looks nothing like the player once the butt of everyone's jokes.

7 Bardsley: Did everything right, solid if unspectacular;

8 Elmohamady: Best performance in a Sunderland shirt so far, delivered quality balls and tortured John O'Shea on the flank,

7 Zenden: Should have done better with his chance but his patient passing kept a good tempo for the hosts;

7 Cattermole: Clean sheet' for the captain didn't get booked and dictated the pace of play in the centre,

7 Henderson: At the heart of Sunderland's best attacking play;

8 MALBRANQUE: United couldn't deal with the Belgian, should have scored in the first half;

7 Bent: Had a couple of chances to score, but was isolated for spells and did the best job he could.


Reid (for Zenden 82), Gyan (for Malbranque 83), (not used): Gordon (gk), Riveros, Mensah, Ferdinand, Da Silva MANCHESTER UNITED (4-4-2):

VAN DER SAR 7; Rafael 5, Vidic 7, Ferdinand 7, O' Shea 5; Anderson 4 (Bebe 80), Scholes 5, Fletcher 5, Nani 6; Macheda (Hernandez 65, 6) 5, Owen (Berbatov 46, 7) 5.

Subs (not used): Kuszczak (gk), Evra, Smalling, Gibson.


STEED Malbranque Ran the show in a sublime first half for Sunderland.

Weaved from wing to wing, was a nightmare for United's defence

Source: Northern_Echo