Sunderland 0-3 Man United: Red Devils down 10-man Black Cats

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It was smooth, it was comprehensive, and it was decisive. Before and after Seb Larsson’s 43rd minute sending off, Manchester United was the better side as they cruised to a 3-0 win at the Stadium of Light, keeping their Champions League hopes alive.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic started things off a half-hour into the game, and from there it was done and dusted, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Marcus Rashford deepening the wound for the Sunderland fans.

The home side had little to offer in the early going, and Manchester United took advantage, controlling the pace of the game and the attacking flow. Zlatan Ibrahimovic had an early chance on a free-kick from just outside the area but he couldn’t direct the close-range effort around the wall.

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Manchester United got a bit foul-happy, and it lifted the Black Cats to a spell of possession, as Victor Anichebe and Jermain Defoe both just worked half-chances, with the former off-target and the latter offside. Sunderland would rue those misses, as Manchester United would soon go in front. Just past the half-hour mark, Ibrahimovic produced a moment of brilliance as, with his back to both goal and a double-team, he still managed to find space to turn and shoot, rifling a shot low into the bottom corner for a 1-0 lead.

The visitors had a shot for another minutes later as Zlatan fed Luke Shaw making a run down the left. The young wing-back fed Marouane Fellaini on the penalty spot, but under heavy pressure from Bryan Ovideo, his shot was blocked and then smothered by Sunderland goalkeeper Jordan Pickford. Seconds later, Oviedo pulled up with a hamstring injury, signaling for a substitution and manager David Moyes was required to oblige.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

It would get worse for the hosts, as just before halftime, Seb Larsson was given a straight red card for going over a tackle, with his studs finding the shin of Ander Herrera, who was lucky to escape unscathed. That left Sunderland a man down, and sealed things for a team increasingly likely to find the drop.

Larsson was furious, taking forever to leave the field and then engaging the fourth official on his way off, but he will have little argument after watching the replay, going over the ball and taking aim at Herrera’s shin with his studs.

The game was immediately out of reach for the home side, as Manchester United took a 2-0 lead less than a minute into the second half restart. Henrikh Mkhitaryan collected a long ball from Luke Shaw, touched it expertly forward, and fired into the bottom corner with a similar finish to Zlatan’s earlier strike. The assist from Shaw was his first Premier League helper in over two years.

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With the game firmly in hand, Jose Mourinho instructed his team to shut it down just past the hour mark, looking to preserve the clean sheet against a disadvantaged opponent. Despite that, they still had some chances down the stretch. Moments after coming on the field, Anthony Martial received a perfect long-ball from Daley Blind and nearly chipped Pickford but couldn’t get enough air under the ball.

They’d get a third with just ticks left on the clock as Rashford played a one-two with Ibrahimovic, receiving the return ball to beat Jason Denayer, and the 19-year-old expertly finished to the far left corner for United’s third. The final few minutes were nothing more than a formality, as Manchester United jumped back over Arsenal into fifth with a four-point gap between them and Champions League play. Sunderland remains 10 points back of safety, their Premier League status dwindling with each failed result.

Mourinho: Derby defeat didn’t help, but United overcame fatigue

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Jose Mourinho said the Manchester Derby nearly caught up to his men in Wednesday’s 1-0 win over Bournemouth at Old Trafford.

[ RECAP: Man Utd 1-0 Bournemouth ]

The Manchester United manager says that’s not on account of emotions or let down, but simply the volume of matches his Red Devils have played and the extra rest afford the visitors.

Romelu Lukaku climbed Nathan Ake to find United its opener, and the hosts were defending plenty in the second half. But United was able to endure on a soggy night at home, and maintain its place second on the Premier League table.

From the BBC:

“Fatigue, yes, but hangover – no. The game was a big one, and a defeat does not help in your recovery – victories help, defeats don’t. They were difficult opponents and difficult conditions. If we had scored the second it would have been a calm night for us.”

That said, this felt like one of the matches United would’ve drawn last season, and Lukaku was a difference maker as were David De Gea and Phil Jones at the back.

And Mourinho would not mail in the title race despite Man City’s 11-point advantage and continued league dominance.

“It is only over in May, if it is over now I go on holiday to Brazil or Los Angeles.”

Guardiola lauds Man City after record 15th straight win

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Pep Guardiola is breaking records pretty much every time Manchester City step onto the pitch right now.

[ RECAP – City hammer Swansea ]

On Wednesday they set a new Premier League and English top-flight record for the most consecutive wins in history, with City winning 4-0 away at Swansea to seal their 15th-straight win and stay 11 points clear of the table.

City beat Arsenal’s previous record of 14-straight wins in the Premier League from February to August 2002, and now they remain unbeaten with 17 games of the season gone.

Guardiola now holds the record for most consecutive wins in the top-flight of Spanish, German and English soccer with Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Man City respectively. He’s a machine and he’s turned Man City into one.

Speaking to the BBC after beat Swansea, Guardiola was delighted with the win, especially coming so soon after the energy-sapping Manchester derby win at Manchester United on Sunday.

“Considering we have a lot of games in our legs, a demanding game at Old Trafford three days ago, we were solid, we were serious and we made a good performance,” Guardiola said. “You suffer and enjoy, like a manager you see many things. When the team play good we are happy. Our feeling – we understand what we want to do. We play good inside, outside. I’m so happy for David (Silva), we cannot disguise his quality but in the past he didn’t score too much goals. He’s sharp, he’s in an amazing condition.”

Man City’s manager rightly pointed towards David Silva‘s brilliance as the Spanish playmaker scored twice at Swansea and he’s now scored four times in his last three games, including a late winner against West Ham and setting City on their way to a win at United on Sunday.

With the record now in hand and Man City also stretching their club-record unbeaten run in the top-flight to 25 games, is there a risk his side will be complacent as the bookmakers have slashed their PL title odds to 1/25?

“That is not going to happen. We are so demanding for our players. We can lose, we can drop points but complacency, never happened in the past, the present or the future,” Guardiola said. “Winning 15 games in a row gives us a lot of confidence. If people are happy watching us that is the best gift.”

Ahead of the festive season, Man City are the gift which keep on giving and they have to be up their with the best teams English soccer has ever seen.

Less than halfway through the 2017-18 season they show no signs of slowing down and the Premier League title is simply theirs to lose.

More records will fall this season as an imperious, attacking unit has been fine-tuned by Guardiola. We are watching history being made in beautiful fashion.

Tottenham 2-0 Brighton and Hove Albion: Spurs back into Top Four

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  • Spurs outshoot Gulls 25-7
  • Earn 10 corners to Gulls’ 2
  • Aurier, Son score
  • Spurs back into Top Four

Serge Aurier‘s sailing cross and Heung-Min Son‘s late insurance goal led Spurs to a 2-0 win over Brighton and Hove Albion at Wembley Stadium on Wednesday.

Tottenham is back in the Top Four with the win on 31 points, while Brighton is 13th. The Gulls are now just three points clear of the drop zone.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Spurs had a pair of early possibilities, and Heung-min Son was blocked by Shane Duffy just after the latter got enough of the ball to avoid a penalty for going to ground.

Harry Kane then had two chances, one cleared off the line and another blocked by the Gulls.

It took a drifting cross to put Spurs on the board, as Aurier’s effort sailed over Mat Ryan and into the upper 90.

The second half didn’t have much pep, though Hugo Lloris was called upon to stop Tomer Hemed.

Kane blasted the bar with a free kick in a bid to make it 2-0 in the 70th, and Spurs found that second goal through Son’s redirection of a Christian Eriksen free kick.

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Manchester United 1-0 Bournemouth: Lukaku nets winner

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  • Early Lukaku goal stands up
  • Cherries outshoot hosts 14-9
  • United three clear of Chelsea

Manchester United remains second in the Premier League following a 1-0 win over Bournemouth at Old Trafford on Wednesday.

Romelu Lukaku headed home in the 25th minute to move United to 38 points, 11 behind Man City and three ahead of Chelsea.

Bournemouth remains 14th with 16 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

A bit of sloppiness plagued United, who was well in control of the early proceedings apart from the less than ideal passes.

Anthony Martial tried a clever cross from outside the 18 that missed both Romelu Lukaku and Juan Mata at the back post.

At the other end, Phil Jones cut out a Callum Wilson left-footed rip for a throw. David De Gea then made two interventions including a stop on Charlie Daniels.

You’d think Lukaku was a former Cherry the way he mildly celebrated his opener, nodding a Mata cross past Asmir Begovic.

De Gea managed typical heroics when he got went low to stop a slippery bounding Wilson should through traffic.

Martial missed a sitter as the second half wore on, with Lukaku’s cut back going for naught.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]