Sunderland fell to a 3-1 defeat against Manchester United on David Moyes’ return to Old Trafford this Boxing Day. An encouraging first half went to waste as Sunderland crumbled to goals from Daley Blind, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and a wonder goal by Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Here’s some things that went well, some things that went poorly, and some things we’re just plain sick of seeing.
Given the nature of our second half demise, it’s easy to forget Sunderland were the better side in the first 45.
Unlucky to be going in behind at the break, Moyes’ side were creating the chances, just without taking any of them.
The opener aside, Jordan Pickford was there to stop everything at the other end when United did threaten.
Perhaps the best moment of the game came in the dying moments.
Three goals down and with the game firmly out of reach, Fabio Borini took the ball down on his chest before looping it over De Gea and into the top corner.
Possibly one of our goals of the season, and one which will inevitably be overshadowed by the result and, rightly so, Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s stunning effort.
As with Swansea three weeks ago, Sunderland slumbered out for the second half. Ambling along in a fashion that begged United to punish.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic duly obliged.
Dider Ndong’s sloppy pass was cut out by Paul Pogba, who fed the Swede to finish easily – all with Ndong still lying down.
For a player who continues to divide opinion between those who believe in statistics and those who don’t, Ndong did himself no favours this afternoon.
Not to be outdone by his midfield partner, Jason Denayer also cheaply lost the ball, leading to Mkhitaryan’s wonder goal.
For years now, Sunderland have thrown away countless games with mindless mistakes, and our relegation worries aren’t going anywhere as long as we continue to do so.
On the topic of foolish mistakes, the partnership of Lamine Kone and Papy Djilobodji needs addressing.
Neither look assured, confident central defenders, and haven’t for much of this season.
Djilobodji appeared to turn a corner in recent weeks, yet the panicky mistakes were creeping back into his game today.
As for Kone, he was lucky not to be punished for a foul similar on Juan Mata not dissimilar to Fabricio Coloccini’s against Steven Fletcher circa 2015.
Not content with that, Kone went looking for an extra week off, on top of his African Cup of Nations commitments, with a last-man foul on Mkhitaryan in the dying stages.
Martin Atkinson only booked the Ivorian, but Sunderland’s defence failed to stand up when questioned once again today.
Both are likely to be called up to their national sides for the AFCON next month, but things need to be better in the meantime.