Villa Park

Next Game

A Villa v S'land

Sunday, 28 December 2014, 15:00

Barclays Prem

Stadium of Light

Last Game

S'land 1 - 3 Hull City

Friday, 26 December 2014, 15:00

Barclays Prem

Another step closer

The 1-0 victory at Sunderland puts Manchester United out of sight in terms of the race for the Premier League title, says Gary Neville.

Last Updated: 01/04/13 at 08:26 Post Comment

Titus Bramble diverts Robin van Persie's shot into the net

Titus Bramble diverts Robin van Persie's shot into the net

The game was decided by a deflected Robin van Persie effort in the first half - the Dutchman's cross-shot spinning up off the outstretched thigh of Black Cats defender Titus Bramble and into the net.

The Stadium of Light was heartened by an improved second half performance from the hosts, but the United rearguard held firm with the likes of David De Gea, Nemanja Vidic and Chris Smalling producing some solid defending.

Ultimately, Martin O'Neill's men failed to snare their equaliser, and Sir Alex Ferguson's visitors moved some 15 points clear of their closest pursuers - city rivals and defending champions Manchester City.

Neville told Sky Sports of the title race: "It's done. It was done a couple of weeks ago, I think. It's just a matter of time and how quickly they can do it, whether they can beat City a week on Monday.

"Today was important for them. In the second half they were fantastic defensively. David De Gea's punch, Chris Smalling's header, headers from Nemanja Vidic and Johnny Evans - they were four chances of Sunderland pressure that were dealt with. They're seeing games out comfortably at the moment.

"In the second half, Sunderland did simple things. We know it's going to be difficult but we expected people would run forward and close people down. In the first period, Sunderland sat off United and let them play.

"For the goal, it's tough to blame Titus Bramble. He sticks his leg out. It wasn't brilliant but he's unfortunate. You can't allow Robin van Persie to be one-on-one with Phil Bardsley driving into the box like that. Stephane Sessegnon should have sprinted back."

Improvement

Niall Quinn, a former Sunderland player and chairman, focused on the positives after the match - the home team applying pressure to United and forcing De Gea into producing his best with some testing crosses.

The ex-Republic of Ireland target man said: "Sunderland will be looking at it and saying it's not the worst result on paper but there are two ways to look at it - looking at how good United are and how they played when we stood off them and let them play, but look at how we got at them in the second half. We caused them untold problems.

"The crowd got really up for it because of the second half performance and it wasn't as easy as Manchester United had it in the first half. The key to Sunderland going forward here is to look at how they went against a top team, making it uncomfortable. I don't know what Martin O'Neill said to them at half time but it made them more aggressive.

"O'Neill will be pleased. There's a silver lining in that performance today for me, and that was that they showed themselves and the fans that when they play with pace, they can do it - even against Manchester United."

Related News

Most Commented

Readers' Comments

I

really enjoyed this. Thanks F365 for another year of work avoidance - happy Christmas.

megabrow (cufc)
Our Person Of The Year: Alan Pardew

I

m no Sam Fan and this article sums him up beautifully. I always like to imagine that when he watches anything on TV and hears clapping, he stands up and aknowledges the applause, thinking its for him!

cozens
Football Managers On TV: Sam Allardyce

N

ah, Fergie is just having another pop at Rooney. He just wants to put him down whenever he gets a chance. Rooney is by far the best English player. Carrick is not far behind, mind. However, by elevating Carrick like that, Sir is having a dig at Wayne. Fergie is well-known for mind games like that. Good to see he's still feisty.

timbo
Van Gaal will thrive - Ferguson

Footer 365

Arsene Wenger admits Olivier Giroud deserved his red card for headbutting Nedum Onuoha

Arsene Wenger admits Olivier Giroud deserved his red card for headbutting Nedum Onuoha in Arsenal's 2-1 win over QPR.

Premier League: Alexis Sanchez and Tomas Rosicky give 10-man Arsenal 2-1 win over QPR

Alexis Sanchez and Tomas Rosicky gave Arsenal a 2-1 win over QPR despite Olivier Giroud's second-half sending off.

Premier League: Manchester City respond to Chelsea's victory by winning at West Brom

Manchester City won 3-1 at West Brom to reduce the gap on Chelsea at the top of the Premier League back to three points.

Mail Box

Van Gaal's Half-Term Report Card...

One Man United fan isn't happy with the rate the team is progressing under Louis van Gaal, while the mailbox also wishes Liverpool fans a Merry Mid-Table Christmas...

Hang On, Rafa's Success Is No Fluke...

The afternoon mailbox kicks the morning mailbox's arse after claims that Rafa Benitez has fluked his success. Plus, big talk about Liverpool's progress and lots more...

© 2014 British Sky Broadcasting Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media property