Wayne Rooney helped Manchester United deliver a serious Premier League title warning to neighbours Manchester City by finally ending the longest goalscoring drought of his career.
After 11 matches without finding the net in the League, Rooney (right) took just 39 seconds of the second half to add to Memphis Depay’s opening goal four minutes into added time at the end of the first to secure the points at Old Trafford.
While the £36m Anthony Martial missed out on scoring for the third game in a row, Rooney’s goals took him level with Denis Law in United’s list of all-time scorers by hitting the 171 mark.
Rooney’s scrappy finish with his knee provided Louis van Gaal’s team with the extra cushion to see off an improved Sunderland, who still remain rooted to the foot of the table after failing to win any of their opening seven games.
Juan Mata completed the comfortable win in the last minute as United took full advantage of City’s 4-1 defeat at Tottenham earlier in the day to top the table for the first time under Van Gaal, who was guarded about his team’s chances of staying there but clearly encouraged by their start to the season.
He said: “Last year when we had 13 points from 10 or 11 matches we had to chase and at the end of the season we finished fourth.
“This year is a big difference. You can start better from the top than the bottom but it shall be very difficult. In May you can ask me the same question.”
As Sunderland have conceded 18 goals in the first half of matches this season, plenty of their supporters will have been surprised by just how long it took United to find the net.
But once they did there was no looking back, and manager Dick Advocaat was not happy at how easily his side surrendered their good work as Daley Blind’s angled pass was allowed to reach Mata, who squared for Depay to tap in his first Premier League goal.
“You can say we were well organised against a good team like United but we gave the game away in two minutes,” said Advocaat.
“I can accept losing sometimes but we made it very easy for them in the second half. Do we have to change things in the squad? That’s what we have to think about.”
Sunderland had chances but failed to take them, and once Rooney had ended his drought, it became a walk in the sunshine, goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon limiting the damage until he was beaten by Mata’s rising shot in the last minute.Reuse content