Manchester United exploited Manchester City’s 4-1 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur by beating Sunderland 3-0 on Saturday to replace their rivals at the top of the Premier League table.
City’s unexpected capitulation opened the door for Louis van Gaal’s side and they strolled through it courtesy of goals from Memphis Depay, Wayne Rooney, who ended a 1,000-minute league scoring drought, and Juan Mata.
Depay made the breakthrough in first-half stoppage time, tapping home after Daley Blind’s fine pass was volleyed across goal by Mata, with Rooney and Mata finishing the job in the second half.
“It’s a nice feeling to be top of the table. It’s the first time in my period, so I’m happy,” said Van Gaal, who has led United to the summit for the first time since legendary manager Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013.
“I was very happy with the goal in extra time (by Mata) because they punished themselves. They were always wasting time and the referee was not reacting to that.”
Rooney’s goal, set up by Anthony Martial, was his first in the league since April and saw him draw level with Old Trafford great Denis Law on 171 league goals.
Victory took United a point above City, who slipped to a second consecutive league defeat — and a third loss in four games in all competitions — at White Hart Lane.
City went ahead in the 25th minute through Kevin De Bruyne, but Eric Dier, Toby Alderweireld, Harry Kane, with his first goal of the season, and Erik Lamela scored as Spurs roared back for a win that sent them fifth.
“The Premier League is always very difficult,” City manager Manuel Pellegrini told BT Sport.
“That’s why when we won the first five (league) games, we didn’t say we were going to win the league. We have to keep working. In future we must play every game as a final.”
Willian rescues Chelsea
Defending champions Chelsea remain a long way from the title picture, but a late fightback saw them come from 2-0 down to salvage a 2-2 draw at Newcastle United and avoid a fourth defeat of the campaign.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho again left John Terry on the bench and Ayoze Perez capitalised on hesitancy between Kurt Zouma and Branislav Ivanovic to slam Newcastle ahead in the 42nd minute.
Georginio Wijnaldum glanced home a Perez corner to double Newcastle’s lead on the hour, but substitute Ramires gave Chelsea a foothold with a 25-yard scorcher before crossing for Willian to equalise in the 86th minute.
“It is a point,” said Mourinho, whose side are eight points below United in 15th place. “That’s what we got. Better than to lose, but I’m never happy when I don’t win matches.
“I have to try to understand why they can play so bad in one half and so well in the other.”
West Ham United could have gone level on points with Manchester City, but despite drawing 2-2 at home to Norwich City, they remain in third place.
Nathan Redmond’s 83rd-minute strike looked poised to earn Norwich victory, after Diafra Sakho had cancelled out Robbie Brady’s opener, only for West Ham midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate to bundle in a stoppage-time equaliser.
Arsenal climbed to fourth, below West Ham on goal difference, after separating Leicester City from their status as the top flight’s last unbeaten side with a 5-2 success at the King Power Stadium.
Jamie Vardy curled home in the 13th minute to put Leicester ahead, but Theo Walcott equalised five minutes later before Alexis Sanchez claimed a hat-trick — his first goals this season — to secure victory.
Vardy netted a second goal late on before Olivier Giroud swept home Arsenal’s fifth in added time.
Meanwhile, Daniel Sturridge scored his first goals since returning from a lengthy lay-off with a hip injury as Liverpool edged Aston Villa 3-2 at Anfield to end a winless four-game run and move up to seventh place.
James Milner fired Liverpool ahead in the second minute before Sturridge marked his return to fitness with a fine outside-of-the-foot volley from Milner’s lofted return pass in the 59th minute.
Sturridge added a second goal in the 67th minute, sandwiched by a brace by Rudy Gestede, and it proved enough to secure a win that will take some of the pressure off Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers.
“We wanted to win for the manager,” said Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva. “We know what has been said about him and I think we showed we are a group of players behind him and trying to make everything right.”
Goals from Virgil van Dijk, Dusan Tadic and Sadio Mane saw Southampton to a 3-1 win over Swansea City, while Mame Biram Diouf gave Stoke City a 2-1 success over Bournemouth, who had striker Callum Wilson stretchered off.