January signings Wahbi Khazri and Lamine Kone both scored as Sunderland secured a 2-1 victory over Manchester United at the Stadium of Light on Saturday.
- Sunderland 2 Manchester United 1
- Khazri free-kick opens the scoring
- Martial equalises for United
- Penalty not given for Rooney handball
- Kone heads home late winner for Cats
Former Bordeaux forward Khazri scored an early opener straight from a free-kick, only to see Anthony Martial cancel that out with a dinked equaliser.
Wayne Rooney got away with a handball in the penalty box which should have been a spot-kick for Sam Allardyce’s hosts, who largely dominated proceedings.
And that dominance was rewarded on 82 minutes, when Kone powerfully headed home a corner from Khazri, with the ball going in off David de Gea.
The much-needed win saw Sunderland pull within a point of 17th-placed Newcastle, while United are six points behind fourth-placed Manchester City, who have a game in hand.
Sunderland’s starting line-up did not feature Adam Johnson, who was sacked by the club this week after pleading guilty to sex offences.
But £9million January signing Khazri was on the home team sheet – and opened the scoring on three minutes, when his free-kick into the box went through a crowd of players and deceived De Gea, who saw the ball late and let it squeeze in off the upright.
Rooney had a sight at goal shortly after but the Sunderland defence closed the door on the chance, and on 11 minutes Jermain Defoe miskicked a shot six yards from goal when he should have made it 2-0.
Allardyce’s plans were disrupted when Jan Kirchhoff pulled up with a hamstring injury and had to be replaced by Jack Rodwell, while United had their own injury problems, with Matteo Darmian hurting his shoulder after a crunching tackle by Khazri and making way for young defender Donald Love.
The Black Cats had their tails up and both Patrick van Aanholt and Lee Cattermole dragged good chances wide of the target before they had a penalty appeal turned down when Morgan Schneiderlin’s handball in the box was correctly deemed unintentional by referee Andre Marriner.
United slowly grew in confidence, though, and Juan Mata tested Vito Mannone with a fine first-time strike on 31 following a fizzing pass from Rooney.
DeAndre Yedlin was booked for diving on 38, and a minute later it was 1-1 after Mannone parried a fierce strike from Mata into the path of Martial, who dinked the ball over the keeper for his 10th goal in a United shirt.
Sunderland made a strong start to the second half and Rooney was booked for tripping Cattermole after losing possession.
The England striker was involved again on 50 minutes, when John O’Shea’s flicked header from a Khazri free-kick struck Rooney’s arm as he tried to protect himself. The United man gingerly rubbed his face to imply it had struck him there, and the spot-kick was not given.
United were being pinned back and breathed a sigh of relief when Daley Blind’s sliding clearance under pressure from Defoe rolled narrowly wide of the upright.
Then Mata went into the book for a foul after losing possession and Carrick also saw yellow, with Sunderland firmly in the driving seat.
They nearly made it 2-1 on the hour mark, when Dame N’Doye broke clear only to see his goalbound strike superbly diverted for a corner by De Gea’s right boot.
And the Spanish keeper was the last line of defence again shortly after, diving well to hold on to a curling 20-yard free-kick from the lively Khazri.
Louis van Gaal sent on Memphis Depay for Jesse Lingard and United started to pose a threat again, with Rodwell brilliantly blocking a shot from Mata on 69.
Allardyce then made a change of his own, sending on Fabio Borini for Defoe, but it was Kone who next went close, forcing De Gea to tip his powerful strike over the crossbar as the hosts turned the screw.
United weathered the storm and had a spell of pressure themselves before Kone powerfully headed home a deserved winning goal with eight minutes remaining.