In their third consecutive away match, Manchester United endured a frustrating afternoon and could only manage a 0-0 draw against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.
The goalless draw was their fourth draw in the Barclays Premier League this season, which matches the amount of ties they had all of the 2009/10 season.
Prior to the start of the match, the United dressing room collapsed causing no injury, but it did soak all of their clothes, which made for 20 minute delay in the start of the match – and that was exactly what the players legs did not need following their tough away match in Spain during the week.
It was a fairly unchanged squad from 1-0 win over Valencia in the UEFA Champions League, which clearly showed in the first-half, and Sir Alex Ferguson stayed true to his word and left Wayne out of the of the match, however, he did restore Paul Scholes into the starting line-up.
On top of that, Ferguson handed FIVE players their first Premier League start with Rio Ferdinand, Rafael, Anderson Federico Macheda and Michael Owen getting the nod against Sunderland.
The game started quite slowly with the first corner finally coming in the sixth minute, and the home side were unable to make anything of their three attempts in a row.
The first shot went to Sunderland as well, but Darren Bent pull his 20-yard shot well wide of Edwin van der Sar’s right post.
Following John O’Shea’s cocked-up clearance fell nicely for Jordan Henderson, but, thankfully, the Sunderland-born midfielder’s volley went wide.
The first chance for United came in the 13th minute as Nani was encouraged to shoot, but his shot took a deflection and out for a corner, which came to nothing.
United should have been down a goal, but the heroics of van der Sar to get down quickly denied Steed Malbranque after Lee Cattermole played a smart through ball to play in the Frenchman clean through on goal.
United were let off the hook again, after Henderson’s free-kick was put directly at van der Sar, but the big Dutchman was unable to hold onto it, and the Red Devils survived a bit of pinball action in their six-yard box after Nedum Onuoha’s toe poke caromed off Nemanja Vidic and it was eventually cleared out of the dangerous area.
In the 35th minute, after some good combination play between Boudewijn Zenden, Malbranque and Bent, and the center forward tame left-footed effort went straight into the arms of the United goalkeeper.
United were again lucky, when Zenden had outside-of-the-foot shot, which had van der Sar well-beaten, strike against his right post and out of harm’s way.
From a very good position, United had a good chance to nick something against the run of play, but Nani’s free-kick went harmlessly just wide of the Sunderland left-hand post.
With the first-half, which was completely bossed by Sunderland, coming to a close both teams having a half-chance to break the deadlock.
The first of those chances went to the home team with yet another chance down the left-hand side against O’Shea, but Onuoha’s cross was wild and went out for a throw.
United, who looked a bit stagnant from their midweek exertions in Europe, finally managed some good build-up play, but the ball into Sunderland box was poor and behind all of the advanced attackers and Sunderland cleared their lines.
Unsurprisingly, the second-half began with Ferguson making a change by bringing Dimitar Berbatov on for an ineffective Michael Owen, which will hopefully be able to give United a bit more of the ball.
The change almost proved to be a bit of genius as Berbatov turned the ball into the Sunderland net, but unfortunately he was standing two yards offside, but it was promising movement from United in compared to the first-half.
United began stamping their authority on the match, Vidic showed exactly how to take the game by the scruff of their neck, and did well out pacing Keiran Richardson down the left and won the Red Devils a corner.
The game started to get a bit heated with Scholes and Anderson taking on Cattermole and Malbranque, and United’s elder statesman gave up a free-kick after foolishly kicking out at Malbranque.
The ensuing free-kick was sent low into the United box, and Darren Fletcher was unable to deal with it and it started to ping around the United box, but thankfully it was blast well wide and over their goal.
In the 65th minute, Sir Alex made a like-for-like change as Macheda made way for Javier Hernandez to inject some more pace down the left-hand side and through the middle.
Chicharito made his presence known by popping up in the Sunderland box, but unfortunately he was unable to direct his header on target.
Malbranque took a shot from distance, and the deflection of the shot carried it over the outstretched van der Sar, but thankfully it also went past the crossbar and onto the roof of the net.
Sunderland attacked down the right-hand side, and with Rafael in an advanced position, Zenden had acres of space and he precisely picked out Bent, but their lone-hitman’s first-time effort went wide dangerously wide of the United near post.
Nani tested Simon Mignolet with a dipping volley, but the Sunderland goalkeeper was up to the task and palmed the effort to kill the pace of the chance.
The English journalists finally got to feast their eyes on Sir Alex’s strange summer signing when Bebe came on for Anderson to bring more to the United attack.
Follow a quick three-man passing movement, United carved the Sunderland defense apart, but Berbatov’s effort was drilled just past Mignolet’s post.
Steve Bruce showed his intention to get maximum points from this game by bringing on Asamoah Gyan for Zenden, and the Ghanaian quickly inserted himself in the Sunderland attack, but thankfully there wasn’t any pace on his overhead kick and van der Sar dropped down well to his left to collect the effort.
Following some good link up play with Berbatov and Hernandez, the young Mexican blasted the ball well-over the Sunderland bar.
Nani was given space on the left-hand side, and with a look up at goal, he tried bending the ball into the far post, but the effort was poor and went out for a goal kick.
United tried to break on Sunderland, but Michael Turner chopped down Berbatov to earn the first yellow card of the match for his club.
From the resulting free-kick, Flether lofted the ball towards the part post, and it was headed back into the path of Vidic and his header was well blocked by a Sunderland defender.
Then Sunderland had their own chances, but thankfully Manchester Untied stood their ground to see out the goalless draw at the Stadium of Light.
Nemanja Vidic showed exactly why Sir Alex made him the long-term club captain with a very dominant performance against Sunderland.
E. van der Sar – 6, Rafael – 6, N. Vidic – 8, R. Ferdinand – 7, J. O’Shea – 6, D. Fletcher – 6, P. Scholes – 6, Anderson – 5 (Bebe – 5), Nani – 7, F. Macheda – 5 (J. Hernandez – 7), Owen – 5 (D. Berbatov – 7)
Shots (On Target): 12 (1)
Fouls Conceded (Suffered): 8 (11)
Bookings: N. Vidic, Rafael