Manchester United’s eight-game winning run came to an abrupt end as they salvaged a fortunate 2-2 home draw against Sunderland in the English Premier League on Saturday.
Sunderland took the lead in the early first half through Darren Bent before Dimitar Berbatov equalized with a stunning volley just after the break. But Kenwyne Jones headed the visitors in front and they looked to be holding on for a deserved victory until Anton Ferdinand deflected Patrice Evra’s shot past his own goalkeeper Craig Gordon in injury time. Sunderland played the final crucial minutes without former United player Kieran Richardson who was shown sent off for a second yellow card after petulantly kicking the ball away.
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The draw takes United a point clear of Chelsea at the top of the English standings with 19 points from eight games. Chelsea entertain fourth-placed Liverpool on Sunday and can regain top spot with a victory. It was a strangely subdued performance by reigning Premier League champions United, who made seven changes from the 2-1 Champions Leauge win over Wolfsburg and nearly paid the price. Talisman Ryan Giggs was not even a substitute and United missed his inspiration as they toiled against a Sunderland team who defended heroically and broke purposefully from the back. Once such move saw summer signing Bent give them a seventh minute lead as he received a pass from the tireless Lee Cattermole and turned on the edge of the penalty area before shooting past Ben Foster for his seventh goal of the season. United could create little to test Gordon for the remainder of the half and Alex Ferguson replaced an out of sorts Paul Scholes with Anderson for the second half. The equalizer came in the 51st minute as John O’Shea’s cross from the right was met by Berbatov’s spectacular overhead kick. It looked to signal a United victory, but seven minutes later and Sunderland were ahead again as Andy Reid’s cross was met by Jones ahead of the onrushing Foster. The Black Cats looked set for their first win at Old Trafford since 1968, even with the loss of Richardson, but Ferdinand’s cruel deflection of a shot which was going wide rescued United.