By ESPNSTAR.com staff
A week after extending their lead over arch-rivals Manchester City, the Red Devils raced to a two-goal lead at the break courtesy of clinical strikes from Robin van Persie and Tom Cleverley.
Wayne Rooney then made it 3-0 and although the Black Cats pulled one back through substitute Frazier Campbell, United hold out for a valuable three points.
Here, ESPNSTAR.com takes a look at the movers and shakers from Saturday's game at Old Trafford.
David de Gea - 8.5
Despite the convincing nature of United's win, Sunderland actually had a number of good efforts on goal but De Gea kept them at bay with a string of fine saves.
There is no doubt the Spaniard is one of the best shot-stoppers in the competition and if he's able to work on his aerial deficiencies, he will prove Sir Alex Ferguson was right to splash £17million on him.
Phil Jones - 7
Jones was caught out of position on several occasions and was slightly untidy with his distribution, but he did well to weigh in with a couple of last-ditch tackles.
Chris Smalling - 6.5
The ex-Fulham man was having a decent game up to the 72nd minute, when he allowed Frazier Campbell to sneak in at the back post and nod home a consolation for the visitors.
Rio Ferdinand (off 68') - 7
Despite having a couple of nervous moments when he was caught in possession, Ferdinand did well overall in marshalling his backline with authority.
Patrice Evra - 7.5
Given the lack of problems Adam Johnson was giving him, Evra took it upon himself to be an attacking threat and linked up well with Ashley Young to give Carlos Cuellar a real headache.
Antonio Valencia - 7.5
Valencia started the game very brightly and kept the Black Cats defence busy with his persistent runs down the right.
The Ecuador international always looked to hit the touchline and drill crosses into the box and was unlucky not to get an assist to his name.
Michael Carrick (off 46') - 7.5
Carrick, who has spent much of his United career on the receiving end of unfair criticism, showed what he was capable of on Saturday with a classy display in the middle of the park.
The former Tottenham favourite hardly misplaced a pass and always chose the right option, which helped the Red Devils get on the front foot.
Tom Cleverley (off 73') - 8
The rising United star enhanced his growing reputation with another all-action performance in the engine room, which he capped off with a delightful goal in the 19th minute when he latched onto an incisive pass by Carrick an curled an effort into the bottom corner.
Ashley Young - 7
After an injury-interrupted start to the season, Young is starting to rediscover his form and it's easy to see why Nani could be on his way out of the Old Trafford exit door in January.
Both Young and Valencia are not only an attacking threat but do their fair share of dirty work, something Nani fails to offer and if the Portuguese hopes to prove his worth to Ferguson, he would do well to watch the tireless shift the England international put in on Saturday.
Wayne Rooney - 9
Rooney was at his majestic best against Sunderland as he ran the show for United, dropping deep to pick up possession before finding holes in the opposition defence.
The 27-year-old was never afraid to drift out wide to provide an option and got a deserving goal in the second half when he finished from close range.
Robin van Persie - 8.5
While Rooney was clearly the man of the match on Saturday, Van Persie wasn't far behind.
The summer signing continues to prove he could be the spark United were missing last season as they lost out to Manchester City in the title race, opening the scoring in the 16th minute with a classy finish, before laying on a third for Rooney after leaving Titus Bramble for dead.
Paul Scholes (on 46') - 6
Scholes actually had a quiet game after coming on at the break, but managed to find the time to produce a couple of trademark ill-timed tackles.
Nemanja Vidic (on 68') - 6.5
The delight of the United fans was clear for all to see as they welcomed their captain back with a thunderous ovation.
Just minutes after coming onto the field, he showed what the Red Devils have been missing when he put an end to a Sunderland attack with a crunching, no-nonsense tackle.
Ryan Giggs (on 73') - 6
The veteran midfielder came on late on with little time to make an impact.
Simon Mignolet - 7.5
Although he conceded three goals, Mignolet had a good game and deserves credit for ensuring his side didn't lose by a bigger margin.
The Belgian was also commanding when coming out to handle crosses, something his opposite number is still trying to accomplish.
Carlos Cuellar - 7
Cuellar had a tough outing as he regularly found himself in two-on-one situations against Evra and Young.
In his defence, he never shied away from the challenge and did his best to keep United's left-wing duo at bay.
John O'Shea - 5
O'Shea ensured he would be getting a Christmas card from Ferguson in a couple of weeks' time after gifting United their opener.
Despite finding himself in an awkward situation, the ex-United man still opted to clear the ball with a spectacular flicked clearance, and only succeeded in diverting the ball into the path of Van Persie, who made no mistake in firing into the roof of the net.
Titus Bramble - 5.5
Like O'Shea, Bramble had a woeful game and was skinned by Van Persie as he made his way down the left before laying the ball across for Rooney to score the hosts' third goal.
Craig Gardner - 6.5
Gardner had a difficult game coming up against Valencia, but unlike O'Shea and Bramble, at least he tried his best to keep the opposition attackers at bay.
Adam Johnson (off 68') - 5
Johnson has shone on several occasions this season but Saturday's game will be one he will want to forget as he had no influence whatsoever on the game, and was unsurprisingly hauled off eight minutes after the hour mark.
Sebastian Larsson - 7
Despite being deployed in the less-familiar role of central midfield, Larsson put in an accomplished display and did well distributing the ball for Sunderland.
Jack Colback (off 84') - 5.5
Colback had a torrid first half as he was left chasing the shadows of Carrick and Cleverley, and he only enjoyed a better game after the break after the both of them were taken off by Ferguson.
James McClean - 6.5
Given how he was coming up against Jones, who is still relatively young and only just returning from injury, McClean should really have posed more of a threat down the left wing.
Instead, he was easily outmuscled by his opponent and was wasteful with some of his crosses as he opted to smash the ball aimlessly into the box rather than see if he had anyone in support.
Stephane Sessegnon - 7.5
Sessegnon was one of the few Black Cats who could walk off the Old Trafford pitch with his head held high as he never stopped trying for his side, and gave United a problem with his pace and off-the-ball movement.
The one slight problem he has is he isn't a natural striker, meaning even though he regularly finds himself in scoring positions, he doesn't always put them away.
Steven Fletcher (off 46') - 6
Fletcher's aerial threat was completely nullified by Ferguson's decision to play two towering centre-backs in Ferdinand and Smalling.
Connor Wickham (on 46') - 7.5
Surprisingly for someone of his size, Wickham is extremely nimble and quick and he gave United something to think about after coming on at the break.
The ex-Ipswich starlet went on a few mazy dribbles and certainly looks a real prospect for the future.
Frazier Campbell (on 68') - 7
Campbell had a return to Old Trafford to remember as he pulled one back against his former side four minutes after making his way onto the pitch, although it wasn't the most difficult of finishes as Smalling allowed him to sneak in at the far post and nod home unmarked.
James McFadden (on 84') - N/A
McFadden was brought on with six minutes remaining and had insufficient time to make an impact.