It was a dominating performance from United as they saw off an awful Black Cats side to win at a canter. A first half goal from John Lundstram was added to from headers from defenders from Richard Stearman and George Baldock; both with their first goals for the club. United were in complete control from start to finish against an abject Sunderland side who could not muster a shot on target or even a corner all game long.
Manager Chris Wilder kept faith with the side that came back to get a draw at Villa Park with only one change on the bench with George Thomas in for Ben Henighan. Sunderland were without leading scorer Lewis Grabban who was out with an injury. They opted to go with one striker up top in James Vaughan supplanted by a 5-man midfield. Chris Coleman had seen a resurgence in recent weeks and were hoping for another positive result to maintain their steady climb away from the relegation places.
The game began with barely an empty seat in the house as United kicked towards the visiting fans. The home side were very much in the ascendancy with Lundstram and Duffy probing to create for United. Sunderland were defending very deep from the off. Donaldson nearly got in but clipped across the 6-yard box after a ball put him in and then the same man was ruled offside from Duffy’s cross. Clarke then was in with a half chance but O’Shea cleared. United were penning the visitors in and they continued to move the ball from left to right.
A penalty appeal came when Duffy slid the ball towards Donaldson and O’Shea seemed to knock the ball away from Ruiter and the keeper caught the United forward but the appeals were waved away. United continued to probe and prompt but had not created too many clear chances despite dominating. Sunderland had barely had an attack and were depending right on the edge of their 18-yard box.
Just after the half hour the goal came. Donaldson and Clarke both combined in the initial build up and then Duffy played the ball into the path of LUNDSTRAM who coolly slotted home giving the keeper Ruiter no chance. It had been coming as the Blades had completely dominated the game even if they had not created too much. Soon after O’Connell nearly made it 2-0 but headed wide from a set play. Sunderland had created nothing but had a half chance but Stearman and O’Connell blocked two efforts from just inside the box. The first half ended with few other moments of note.
The second half saw Oveido and Wilson pick up bookings for clumsy fouls as United continued on the ascendancy. Duffy was probing again and his play nearly saw Donaldson in before Clarke won a corner soon after. United had been in control without being brilliant and it seemed more chances were inevitable. United won a free kick and Duffy’s superb delivery was met on the full by the stopping STEARMAN who nodded into the corner. This gave United the breathing space they needed.
After this United knocked it about well and Duffy and Lundstram exchanged passes nearly leading to a chance for Donaldson again but the third goal was not long in coming. It was a lovely fluent move and ended up with the ball wide left and O’Connell on the overlap hit a superb cross first time on the run that was met by a thumping header from BALDOCK as the wing back strode unchallenged into the box.
Asoro came on for Gooch for the visitors who looked a well beaten side. They barely could string two passes together and United looked well in the mood for more goals.
United were threatening to run riot and some more lovely football saw Duffy interchange passes with Stevens but as the wing back looked to shoot, Clarke took it off his toe and wildly smashed over when Stevens may have had the better chance to score.
Carruthers came on for Duffy and Maja and McManaman replaced Vaughan and Honeyman for the visitors as the game approached the final 10 minutes. A wild shot went out for a throw in for Sunderland that summed up the afternoon for the Black Cats.
United continued to knock it about well and Carter Vickers and O’Connell both made interceptions to stop any kind of chance for Sunderland.
Lavery replaced Clarke and then Laffery came on for Donaldson as the game entered the final minute but it had become a comfortable final stage for the home side and they saw out the three minutes of stoppage time mostly in possession of the football.