Match ends, Manchester United 3, Sunderland 0.
Manchester United climbed to the top of the Premier League table for the first time in more than two years with victory over bottom club Sunderland.
Memphis Depay scored his fourth goal of the season by tucking in from Juan Mata's cut-back just before half time.
United doubled their lead 40 seconds after the break as Wayne Rooney bundled home from close range to end an 11-game scoring drought in the Premier League.
Mata then converted Ashley Young's cross as Sunderland remained bottom.
Until Depay slid in the opener in first-half stoppage time, the hosts looked ponderous in attack but once they went 2-0 up after good work from Anthony Martial, Sunderland had little to offer in response.
Rooney's fifth goal of the season took him level with Denis Law as United's joint-third leading league scorer with 171, and ended his longest barren spell in the Premier League which stretched to 1,000 minutes.
David De Gea was rarely troubled but made good saves from Jeremain Lens and Patrick van Aanholt, with United having conceded just once in the league at home this season.
United stutter to the top
This victory was another fillip for United boss Louis van Gaal, who has been questioned about a lack of incisiveness in United's play this season. His side now top the Premier League after Manchester City's defeat by Tottenham earlier on Saturday.
Despite rarely being tested by Sunderland, the hosts struggled to open up Dick Advocaat's side in a lacklustre first period, with the game turning in the two minutes either side of the break.
That allowed the likes of Rooney and Mata more space to influence the game, but much of United's endeavour relied on the pace and trickery of Martial and Depay, who, at times, bullied the Sunderland backline.
There is a growing theme to United's performances; they may not be thrilling but they are proving hard to beat. The Red Devils lead Manchester City by a point as they target their first Premier League title since 2013.
Rooney on an upward curve
Rooney does not look back to his best, but after scoring in the League Cup win over Ipswich in midweek, he showed his goalscoring prowess remains a vital weapon for United. There were signs he is forming a good partnership with Martial.
Although his Premier League drought stretched back to April last season, he was quick to gamble at the near post when Martial caused havoc in the Sunderland defence, scoring his seventh goal of the season for club and country.
Rooney looks more suited to the number 10 role behind lone striker Martial, who has scored four goals in his opening four games for the club.
And with the teenager's pace and strength creating space ahead of him, Rooney could yet find the sort of form he did playing behind Robin van Persie in the 2012-2013 title-winning season.
Sunderland's woes continue
Advocaat, who played alongside Van Gaal for Sparta Rotterdam in the 1980s, had lost only once to his friend in their 10 previous meetings, and for much of the first half it looked as though he might extend that record.
Having seen his team concede 10 of their 13 league goals in the first half of matches, Advocaat set up the Black Cats to defend, and they were agonisingly close to going into the break at 0-0.
But Depay's strike broke their resolve and Rooney's goal seemed to destroy any confidence that may have remained.
Although De Gea was called into action on a few occasions, Sunderland midfielder Lee Cattermole lacked any meaningful support as he made an aggressive return to the side.
Defeat leaves Sunderland still searching for their first league win of the season, with games against West Ham and West Brom next before they face arch-rivals and fellow strugglers Newcastle on 25 October.
Man of the match: Anthony Martial
Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal: "It's a nice feeling to be top of the table. It's the first time in my period so I'm happy. It's always difficult when you play against a team who is only defending and counting on the counter attack. You have to be aware and my defence was very good.
"I was very happy with the goal in extra time because they punished themselves. They were always wasting time and the referee was not reacting to that. A goal is the biggest influence in a game and I changed my approach at half-time because of that."
Sunderland boss Dick Advocaat: "The first half we did well, organisation wise, but the problem was they scored one minute before half-time and one minute after half-time. United were the better side but they didn't create a lot of chances. It's a shame we gave that goal away in the first half because it made things different in the second half."
Stats you need to know
- Van Gaal recorded his first win in nine games against a side managed by Advocaat.
- Only two players - Bobby Charlton (199) and Jack Rowley (182) - have more league goals for Man Utd than Rooney (171).
- Mata has either scored or assisted in five of his past six Premier League appearances (four assists, two goals).
- After keeping three consecutive clean sheets in May, the Black Cats have conceded in each of their past eight Premier League matches.
- The Black Cats are now on a 10-game winless streak in the Premier League (D4 L6); the longest current run in the competition.
What next for Manchester United?
Van Gaal will hope a third consecutive victory can boost their Champions League hopes when they host Wolfsburg on Wednesday, having lost their opener against PSV Eindhoven. United then travel to Arsenal and Everton in the Premier League, either side of the international break.
- 1de Gea
- 25A Valencia
- 17BlindSubstituted forJonesat 74'minutes
- 16CarrickSubstituted forSchweinsteigerat 68'minutes
- 7DepaySubstituted forYoungat 77'minutes
- 2JonesBooked at 50mins
- 3van Aanholt
- 6CattermoleBooked at 85mins
- 11JohnsonBooked at 38minsSubstituted forFletcherat 45'minutes
- 20ToivonenSubstituted forLarssonat 70'minutes
- 14Gomez Garcia-Penche
- Mike Jones
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Manchester United 3, Sunderland 0.
Foul by Anthony Martial (Manchester United).
Younes Kaboul (Sunderland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Bastian Schweinsteiger (Manchester United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Jeremain Lens (Sunderland).
Attempt blocked. Jeremain Lens (Sunderland) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Yann M'Vila.
Goal! Manchester United 3, Sunderland 0. Juan Mata (Manchester United) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the high centre of the goal.
Attempt missed. Yann M'Vila (Sunderland) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Sebastian Larsson.
Foul by Phil Jones (Manchester United).
Steven Fletcher (Sunderland) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Attempt blocked. Wayne Rooney (Manchester United) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Ashley Young with a cross.
Anthony Martial (Manchester United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Patrick van Aanholt (Sunderland).
Matteo Darmian (Manchester United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Jeremain Lens (Sunderland).
Lee Cattermole (Sunderland) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Morgan Schneiderlin (Manchester United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Lee Cattermole (Sunderland).
Foul by Chris Smalling (Manchester United).