By Phil McNultyChief football writer at Old Trafford
Sir Alex Ferguson celebrated the 25th anniversary of his appointment as Manchester United manager with victory over Sunderland - but it was not a game to match the occasion.
United honoured the landmark by announcing that Old Trafford's North Stand would be renamed after Ferguson.
They also revealed a statue of the Scot has also been commissioned that will be unveiled before the start of next season.
The party mood swirling around the stadium as Ferguson took centre stage was soon deflated by a game of low quality settled by former United defender Wes Brown's own goal in first-half stoppage time.
Sunderland boss and former United defender Steve Bruce has now failed to beat his mentor in 18 managerial meetings - but felt his side had been robbed of the opportunity to sour the celebrations when they were denied a late penalty.
Emotional Ferguson relieved to get win
The three points that keep United on the heels of Premier League leaders Manchester City were the gift Ferguson wanted most on the day Old Trafford took the opportunity to pay a lavish tribute to the legendary manager.
Ferguson entered through a guard of honour formed by both teams before joining chief executive David Gill in the centre circle - where he announced the naming of the stand in Ferguson's honour and his name was revealed from behind a veil erected on the giant structure.
The Scot then spoke of his pride at leading United for so long, but the 45 minutes that followed would not have made either Ferguson or his former captain Bruce proud.
Sunderland were forced into a change almost immediately when Connor Wickham fell awkwardly in an innocuous challenge and was stretchered off with an knee injury.
MASTER V APPRENTICES
Sir Alex Ferguson picked up his 50th Premier League victory against a former player with the win over Steve Bruce's Sunderland
The rest of the half was virtually bereft of incident until stoppage time and Brown's unfortunate intervention as he unwittingly deflected Danny Welbeck's header from Nani's corner past keeper Keiren Westwood.
United almost extended their lead after 64 minutes when Javier Hernandez's header was cleared off the line by Kieran Richardson after he touched on another dangerous Nani corner.
The Black Cats thought they had the chance to equalise when assistant referee Jake Collin put his flag across his chest to indicate a spot-kick as substitute Ji-Dong Won made an aerial challenge with United's defenders.
Referee Lee Mason then consulted the official and awarded a free-kick for handball against the South Korean, much to Bruce's obvious disgust.
Bruce laments Old Trafford return
Keeper Westwood then ensured United did not extend their lead with 16 minutes left when he produced a magnificent double save to deny Wayne Rooney and then Patrice Evra, jumping to his feet to regain position and turn the defender's effort over the top.
Sunderland had enjoyed a fair share of possession and as they exerted pressure and Nicklas Bendtner was agonisingly close to getting a touch on Sebastian Larsson's delivery as it flew across the six-yard box.
It was the last serious scare for United as they held on to give Ferguson the victory he desired to mark the start of his 26th year at Old Trafford.
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson:
"It was an anxious day for the players and I think they showed that today.
"They improved in the second half but that last 15 minutes was torture.
"Sunderland threw everything into it and played very well.
"I think the players wanted to do well for me and that showed. These occasions can be a bit that way.
"I remember when we celebrated the (50th) anniversary of the Munich air disaster and we lost to City here 2-0. It certainly got to the players that day no question and there was maybe a bit of that today."
Sebastian Larsson delivers the ball from the free kick right-footed from left channel, clearance made by Rio Ferdinand.
90:00 +1:34 Substitution
Substitution Darren Fletcher goes off and Fabio Da Silva comes on.
The referee penalises Darren Fletcher for handball.
The ball is crossed by Phillip Bardsley, clearance by Nemanja Vidic.
Centre by Kieran Richardson, Wayne Rooney makes a clearance.
Nicklas Bendtner gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Patrice Evra. Patrice Evra restarts play with the free kick.
Free kick awarded for a foul by David Meyler on Wayne Rooney. Free kick taken by Rio Ferdinand.
Shot from deep inside the area by Javier Hernandez goes over the bar.
Wayne Rooney takes a inswinging corner to the near post.
The ball is sent over by Luis Nani, clearance made by Phillip Bardsley.
Substitution Michael Carrick replaces Ji-Sung Park.
Ahmed Elmohamady crosses the ball. Shot from just outside the area by Lee Cattermole goes over the bar.
The ball is swung over by Ahmed Elmohamady, David Meyler takes a shot. Blocked by Wayne Rooney.
Javier Hernandez is caught offside. Keiren Westwood takes the free kick.
The ball is swung over by Sebastian Larsson.
Substitution Stephane Sessegnon leaves the field to be replaced by Ahmed Elmohamady.
Substitution David Meyler on for Jack Colback.
Phillip Bardsley produces a cross, Header from deep inside the area by Dong-Won Ji goes over the bar.
Unfair challenge on Wes Brown by Nemanja Vidic results in a free kick. Free kick taken by Keiren Westwood.
Luis Nani crosses the ball from the free kick right-footed from left wing, Phillip Bardsley makes a clearance.
Substitution Dimitar Berbatov joins the action as a substitute, replacing Danny Welbeck.
Unfair challenge on Luis Nani by Phillip Bardsley results in a free kick.
Inswinging corner taken by Luis Nani from the left by-line, save made by Keiren Westwood.
Wayne Rooney takes a shot. Save made by Keiren Westwood. Patrice Evra takes a shot. Save by Keiren Westwood.
Patrice Evra takes a shot. Lee Cattermole gets a block in.
The ball is delivered by Luis Nani, clearance by Phillip Bardsley.
Corner taken by Luis Nani from the right by-line.
Patrice Evra delivers the ball.
The referee blows for offside against Javier Hernandez. Indirect free kick taken by Keiren Westwood.
Dong-Won Ji is penalised for handball and concedes a free kick. Anders Lindegaard restarts play with the free kick.
A cross is delivered by Sebastian Larsson.
The ball is swung over by Patrice Evra, save made by Keiren Westwood.
Nemanja Vidic takes a shot. Keiren Westwood makes a comfortable save.
Corner taken right-footed by Luis Nani to the near post, Javier Hernandez takes a shot. Clearance by Kieran Richardson.
Luis Nani takes a shot. Blocked by Kieran Richardson.
Shot by Luis Nani from a long way out goes over the net.
Header by Michael Turner from deep inside the penalty area misses to the left of the goal.
Dong-Won Ji sends in a cross.
Phil Jones concedes a free kick for a foul on Jack Colback. Kieran Richardson takes the free kick.
Unfair challenge on Darren Fletcher by Jack Colback results in a free kick. Free kick taken by Wayne Rooney.
The referee blows for offside against Luis Nani. Keiren Westwood takes the free kick.
Ji-Sung Park produces a cross, save by Keiren Westwood. Shot on goal by Javier Hernandez from just inside the area clears the crossbar.
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Ji-Sung Park by Phillip Bardsley. Luis Nani shoots direct from the free kick.
Jack Colback is ruled offside. Free kick taken by Anders Lindegaard.
The ball is delivered by Patrice Evra, comfortable save by Keiren Westwood.
Centre by Jack Colback, Rio Ferdinand makes a clearance.
Corner taken right-footed by Sebastian Larsson, Phil Jones manages to make a clearance.
Centre by Phillip Bardsley, Patrice Evra gets a block in.
A cross is delivered by Luis Nani, blocked by Kieran Richardson.
The second half has started.
45:00 +3:20 Booking
Booking The referee shows Dong-Won Ji a yellow card.
The assist for the goal came from Luis Nani.
Corner taken by Luis Nani played to the near post.
45:00 +4:05 Half time
Half Time It is the end of the first-half.
Dong-Won Ji gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Rio Ferdinand. Rio Ferdinand restarts play with the free kick.
Danny Welbeck gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Sebastian Larsson. Phillip Bardsley takes the free kick.
45:00 +2:28 Booking
Booking Dong-Won Ji is cautioned.
Danny Welbeck provided the assist for the goal.
45:00 +0:44 Goal scored
Goal - Wes Brown - Man Utd 1 - 0 Sunderland Wes Brown heads into his own net. Man Utd 1-0 Sunderland.
Luis Nani takes a outswinging corner from the right by-line to the near post.
Luis Nani takes a shot. Keiren Westwood makes a save.
The ball is sent over by Sebastian Larsson.
Effort on goal by Dong-Won Ji from just outside the penalty area goes harmlessly over the target.
Shot from just outside the area by Dong-Won Ji goes over the bar.
The free kick is delivered right-footed by Wayne Rooney from left wing, clearance by Michael Turner. Outswinging corner taken right-footed by Luis Nani played to the near post, Wes Brown manages to make a clearance.
Sebastian Larsson gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Patrice Evra.
Effort on goal by Phil Jones from just inside the penalty area goes over the target.
Free kick crossed right-footed by Wayne Rooney from left wing, clearance made by Michael Turner. Outswinging corner taken right-footed by Luis Nani, clearance made by Wes Brown.
Booking Sebastian Larsson is booked.
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Patrice Evra by Sebastian Larsson.
Effort from outside the penalty area by Dong-Won Ji goes wide left of the goal.
Rio Ferdinand concedes a free kick for a foul on Nicklas Bendtner. Phillip Bardsley takes the direct free kick.
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Darren Fletcher by Dong-Won Ji. Darren Fletcher takes the direct free kick.
Wes Brown challenges Javier Hernandez unfairly and gives away a free kick. Wayne Rooney takes the free kick.
Unfair challenge on Ji-Sung Park by Michael Turner results in a free kick. Free kick crossed right-footed by Luis Nani from left channel, save by Keiren Westwood.
Patrice Evra crosses the ball.
Wayne Rooney takes a shot. Save by Keiren Westwood.
Luis Nani crosses the ball.
Stephane Sessegnon has an effort at goal from outside the area missing to the wide right of the goal.
Lee Cattermole gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Wayne Rooney. Wayne Rooney has an effort direct from the free kick, blocked by Lee Cattermole. The ball is swung over by Luis Nani, clearance by Lee Cattermole.
Stephane Sessegnon concedes a free kick for a foul on Phil Jones. Darren Fletcher restarts play with the free kick.
Free kick awarded for a foul by Stephane Sessegnon on Luis Nani. Luis Nani crosses the ball in from the free kick, Phillip Bardsley manages to make a clearance.
Wayne Rooney gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Nicklas Bendtner. Kieran Richardson restarts play with the free kick.
Lee Cattermole concedes a free kick for a foul on Darren Fletcher. Darren Fletcher restarts play with the free kick.
Nicklas Bendtner takes a shot. Save made by Anders Lindegaard.
Sebastian Larsson takes a shot. Blocked by Patrice Evra. Corner from right by-line taken by Sebastian Larsson.
The ball is crossed by Kieran Richardson, Rio Ferdinand manages to make a clearance.
A cross is delivered by Luis Nani, Javier Hernandez takes a shot. Keiren Westwood makes a save.
Kieran Richardson fouled by Javier Hernandez, the ref awards a free kick. Kieran Richardson takes the free kick.
Luis Nani concedes a free kick for a foul on Kieran Richardson. Free kick taken by Kieran Richardson.
Substitution Dong-Won Ji joins the action as a substitute, replacing Connor Wickham.
The offside flag is raised against Nicklas Bendtner. Free kick taken by Anders Lindegaard.
The referee starts the match.
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