Zlatan Ibrahimovic uses brains, not brawn to combat ageing

Louis van Gaal

Zlatan Ibrahimovic sparked United into life with a superb opener before Sebastian Larsson was sent off for a risky tackle, leaving space for Henrikh Mkhitaryan and substitute Marcus Rashford to seal the three points after the break.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored the second of the game just a minute after halftime as the Red Devils took full advantage of their numerical advantage.

Substitute Rashford completed the scoring late on, exchanging passes with Ibrahimovic and arrowing a low drive into the bottom-left corner.

The visitors seemed happy to play at a pedestrian pace and Sunderland began to grow in confidence, with Bryan Oviedo and Lee Cattermole both shooting straight at Romero from outside the area.

Forlan's largely underwhelming time at United had one unforgettable moment.

Sunderland had a awful time just before half-time when they lost full-back Bryan Oviedo to a leg injury, before Larsson was then given his marching orders by referee Craig Pawson for a studs-up challenge on Herrera.

Victor Anichebe went close to an equaliser but his close-range effort was blocked by United keeper Sergio Romero who was starting in place of the injured David de Gea.

"We did that and, apart from that, there were no more injuries to add to the hard list we have, because we don't hide that we are still fighting for our situation in the Premier League".

Leicester, who face Atletico Madrid on Wednesday night in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final, made five changes ahead of their trip to Spain and the defeat ended the run of five wins in a row since Craig Shakespeare replaced Claudio Ranieri as manager.

Jermain Defoe went close from 20 yards after the interval but the Black Cats have lost six of their last seven games and look drained of any confidence.

After sending on Shaw for only his second appearance since January in the midweek draw with Everton, he then rather bizarrely claimed that the 21-year-old, who turned down a move to Mourinho's Chelsea in 2014, had used "his body with my brain".

"The result was good", Mourinho said.

"He didn't make mistakes, he was confident on the ball and he was focused so easy for me to tell him it was good, solid performance".

"He is the centre-forward, but you need goals to come from everywhere, be it the wide men, midfielders, or even the defenders chipping in at set-pieces". We want to fight for trophies.

"It was an important win and a solid performance against a team that is sad", United's manager added. Such heavy involvement - he appeared perpetually on the ball - at times smacked of a player desperate to impress and never more so than when Shaw received a yellow card for ploughing through the back of Sunderland's similarly lively Didier Ndong.

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