Sunderland’s great escape continues with win at United
Cardiff and Fulham both relegated after heavy defeats
Sunderland manager Gus Poyet celebrates with his players, including skipper John O’Shea (right) after the Premier League victory over Manchester United at Old Trafford. Photograph; Darren Staples/Reuters
Premier League round-up: Sunderland took a huge step towards cementing their top-flight status by beating Manchester United 1-0 to hand Ryan Giggs the first defeat of his reign as manager.
Sebastian Larsson took advantage of some slack marking to fire home Connor Wickham’s cross in the first half as Sunderland recorded their first win at Old Trafford since 1968.
What had been billed as a tough fixture turned out to be something of a stroll for the 1-0 winners.
Fabio Borini and Emanuele Giaccherini both struck the woodwork in the second half and Gus Poyet’s team looked comfortable in possession all afternoon.
The win condemned Cardiff and Fulham to relegation, while Sunderland are now big favourites to stay in the Premier League too.
Providing Norwich lose at Chelsea on Sunday, the Black Cats need only to take one point from their final two matches to survive.
And after recent wins over Chelsea, Cardiff and now United, few would back against the Wearsiders to do so.
This was the afternoon that the feel-good bubble surrounding Giggs well and truly burst.
The high-tempo, counter-attacking football he demanded from his players was absent all day.
United were flat in midfield, Javier Hernandez went missing up front and even the return of Robin van Persie from the bench could not inspire the Red Devils to victory.
Many United fans wanted Giggs to be the club’s next manager, but the board may be wise to turn to the more experienced Louis van Gaal, who is set to be appointed as David Moyes’s successor next week.
United’s defeat also highlighted the need for reinforcements this summer, particularly in midfield, where Nani, Darren Fletcher and Michael Carrick failed to impress.
The number of empty seats visible at the final whistle was remarkable. The small pocket of away supporters had every reason to remain and hail their team, who are almost safe just a few weeks after looking doomed.
Loic Remy scored his 14th goal of the season to help end Newcastle’s six-game Premier League losing streak and send Cardiff down after a 3-0 win for the home side at St James’ Park.
On a day when several hundred home fans carried out their threat to walk out before the end of the game after losing patience with owner Mike Ashley and manager Alan Pardew, Shola Ameobi’s first-half header set his side on the road to a lacklustre victory.
The visitors rallied and looked like they might get something out of the game, but late strikes from Remy and substitute Steven Taylor ensured that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men will be playing in the Football League once again next season.
Fulham bade farewell to the top flight with a whimper as a crushing 4-1 loss at the Stoke combined with results elsewhere consigned the Cottagers to relegation to the Championship.