United beat Sunderland to keep up top-4 push

Manchester United's Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrating after scoring their first goal with teammates.
Manchester United's Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrating after scoring their first goal with teammates. PHOTO: REUTERS

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Sunderland 0

Manchester United 3

LONDON • Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho revealed that his side will not give up in their chase to finish in the top four after a routine 3-0 win at bottom club Sunderland yesterday saw them leapfrog Arsenal into fifth in the Premier League.

Despite an upcoming midweek trip to Belgium to take on Anderlecht in the first leg of the Europa League quarter-finals and talk that the continental competition is United's priority, Mourinho handed top scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic a start along with France midfielder Paul Pogba.

And it was the Swede who put United ahead with his 28th goal of the season in all competitions.

Sunderland's cause became all but impossible after Sebastian Larsson was sent off close to halftime at the Stadium of Light.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan doubled United's lead 46 seconds after the interval and the game petered out, with Sunderland offering little in response as they failed to score for the seventh league game in succession.

Substitute Marcus Rashford struck a third in the 89th minute - his first in the league since September 24 - after being set expertly up by the classy Ibrahimovic.

Ibrahimovic told Sky Sports: "Today was a good win and we have to keep focus, and keep working and keep believing we can reach the top four. We believe in it, and we will do everything we can to reach the top four."

United have 57 points from 30 games, four behind fourth-placed Manchester City having played a game fewer.

Mourinho told BBC: "We want to fight in the Premier League until it is mathematically impossible. The Premier League we cannot win, but Europa League we can."

Sunderland remain 10 points adrift of safety with seven games left. Manager David Moyes rued Larsson's controversial dismissal. The midfielder slid into a challenge against Ander Herrera and received a straight red.

"Today the result was helped by the referee," he said. "Manchester United were playing well, but it was a decision that went against us.

"When we went down to 10 men it made it a lot harder."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 10, 2017, with the headline 'United beat Sunderland to keep up top-4 push'. Print Edition | Subscribe