By Ollie Cranham-Young
- United suffered a further blow to Champions League qualification hopes
- Louis Van Gaal suffered further injury blow with the loss of Darmian with suspected dislocated shoulder
Manchester United suffered their first ever league defeat at the Stadium of Light yesterday afternoon as Martial’s equaliser only proved to be a consolation for Louis Van Gaal’s side.
Wahbi Khazri opened the scoring in the third minute with a free-kick only for Martial to equalise on the stroke of half-time however a late header from Kone left David De Gea scrambling in the back of his net as he accidentally knocked the ball goalwards to send United home pointless.
Van Gaal only made one change to the side that drew against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge last Sunday by bringing in midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin in exchange for Marouane Fellaini whilst young defender Donald Love earned a place on the bench, fitting for the Valentine’s weekend trip to the North East.
More youngsters were included on the bench. With James Weir and Will Keane being rewarded for impressive performances for the under-21s lately.
United headed into the clash unbeaten in 13 trips to the Stadium of Light and with all of the teams in the top four to contest each other on Sunday afternoon, it was a perfect opportunity to close the gap.
Only three minutes into the fixture, Khazri’s long free-kick found its way past everybody including David De Gea and somehow nestled it’s way the corner of the net.
The Black Cats early lead surprised almost everybody including manager Sam Allardyce and Sunderland would have scored again moments later if it hadn’t had been for defensive stalwart Chris Smalling blocking Jermain Defoe’s shot at goal from close range.
Following this, Khazri nearly struck again but luckily for the Reds his effort went flying over the crossbar, to David De Gea’s relief.
Almost immediately after Khazri’s poor effort, United seemed to spark into life and won a succession of corners thanks to their attempts and the highlight of these was when Juan Mata’s powerful shot was fired straight at goalkeeper Vito Mannone.
Midway through the first half, Donald Love was unexpectedly thrown into the action by replacing Italian Matteo Darmian.
Mata fired the ball at Mannone for the second successive time in minutes but this time Martial was there to knock in the rebound and equalise for Louis Van Gaal’s men.
Sunderland started the second half as well as they started the first with a succession of fantastic chances, including one in which Wayne Rooney debatably hand balled the ball which had it been noticed by referee Andre Marriner Sunderland could have regained the lead from the spot.
With an hour gone, Dame N’Doye was put through for a one-on-one chance with David De Gea, but an excellent save from the Spanish shot-stopper prevented Sunderland from going back in front.
Goalscorer Khazri struck another free kick from a similar angle however luckily for the Reds this one did not cruelly find its way into the back of the net and De Gea easily made a calm save instead.
Memphis entered play shortly after and nearly made an instant impact on his birthday by setting up Mata only for him to find his shot blocked.
As the Reds gained in momentum, they pressed the Sunderland defence further as Chris Smalling headed the ball but unfortunately it went wide as the Reds missed yet again another opportunity.
A late Sunderland corner saw Kone head the ball downwards and it hit goalkeeper David De Gea on the way in as Sunderland regained the lead late on as what will sadly go down as an own goal from the Spanish keeper which is extremely unfortunate after De Gea had a fantastic game.
The Reds tried to save the game late on with a Memphis shot only to be easily saved by Mannone as Louis Van Gaal’s men go home pointless after suffering a first ever Premier League defeat at the Stadium of Light.
After this afternoon’s result involving the team above United, they remain six points behind neighbours City. Next up in the league for United is the visit of Arsenal to Old Trafford on February 28.
Manchester United: De Gea, Darmian (Love 38), Smalling, Blind, Borthwick-Jackson, Schneiderlin (Keane 86),Carrick, Lingard (Memphis 61), Mata, Martial, Rooney Substitutes Not Used: Romero, Weir, Pereira, Herrera