Sunderland 0-1 Manchester United. It wasn't the most impressive of victories, but it wasn't entirely drab either. If anything, it can probably be described as mostly comfortable and controlled.
The Black Cats had some moments but their end product was really lacking throughout the match. During the times they did threaten, the likes of Nemanja Vidic, Jonny Evans, and Chris Smalling snuffed out attacks. What of Alexander Buttner? Well the Dutchman was busy terrorizing the opponents in the attacking half of the pitch. The left-back was tremendous.
United looked sharp early and it was the lively Shinji Kagawa that seemed to orchestrate attacks in the first-half. The movement, touch, and vision of the Japanese international was on full display and it was a treat to watch. Michael Carrick did his usual thing in controlling the match while Anderson looked to provide a little more incisiveness by attempting to thread a few penetrating passes. The Reds lacked a bit of precision in the penalty area but Buttner, and to a degree, Antonio Valencia looked a threat out wide and as a whole, it was a somewhat balanced performance in attack. Perhaps then, it was appropriate that they got their goal from some good work from Robin van Persie that ultimately resulted in a Titus Bramble own-goal.
In the 27th minute, Anderson played a good ball to spring van Persie down the left-side of attack. The Dutchman was isolated against Sunderland right-back Phil Bardsley on the edge of the area and he eventually attempted a shot from an acute angle. The ball took a double deflection off of Bardsley and Bramble and it eventually settled into the goal. From then on, there was a nervy moment here and there, but the Reds ultimately did well to calmly see out the game.
There really isn't much to summarize. Martin O'Neill had his side somewhat organized defensively but they rarely looked like they had the ability nor the imagination to seriously threaten David de Gea's goal. United got their first-half goal and they then looked to conserve some energy after a busy international break for the majority of the squad and also with the consideration of the upcoming FA Cup clash with Chelsea in less than 48 hours. It's three-points for Sir Alex Ferguson's side and they continue their march for the club's 20th top-flight league title. For now, United are 18-points clear and at a minimum, they will be 15-points clear -- with only 8 fixtures remaining -- when the Manchester derby arrives in 9 days time. The focus now shifts to Stamford Bridge as the club pursues a domestic double.